How to educate me about prejudice in the open-source community

Every once in a while I post something just to have it handy as a reference for the next time I have to deal with a galloping case of some particular kind of sloppy thinking. That way I don’t have to generate an individual explanation, but can simply point at my general standards of evidence.

This one is about accusations of sexism, racism, and other kinds of prejudice in the open-source culture.

First, a statement of principle: in the hacker culture, you should be judged by your work and your work alone. It is wrong for anyone to be attacked, belittled, or excluded because of the color of their skin, the shape of their genitals, what they like to do with their genitals, their politics, their religion, or any other irrelevancy. We are, and should remain, a place where those marginalized because of some aspect of their meatspace identities can find community and a place to do fulfilling work.

I have always stood up for this norm, and will till I die. If I am presented with evidence that anyone in the community has violated it, I will exert whatever authority I have as a tribal elder to condemn that violation and point the community in an ethically correct direction.

That said, in practice I believe such violations are very rare. So rare, in fact, that I cannot now say I know with certainty of even one. On the other hand, I do know of a lot of accusations having been flung by three categories of people: the mentally disturbed, drama queens, and political carpetbaggers. Of these, I consider the last – people seeking social and political power that they have not earned through the merit of their work – to be the most dangerous, enough so that they cannot merely be ignored but must be actively countered and ejected from our community.

In the remainder of this post I will explain what you need to do to present me with a prejudice-related grievance in order to get my full attention. I cannot enforce these standards on other elders or anyone else, but I recommend them to all.

First: Be humble. Don’t walk in assuming your outrage over whatever injustice is bothering you entitles you to dictate to us. It doesn’t – and, anyway, hackers are often prickly, countersuggestible people who don’t take well to what they perceive as attempts to jerk them around, so you’ll self-sabotage if you come on too strong. We have lots of work to do and limited patience for distractions; your cause may be important, but you are not, so start humble and reasonable and stay that way.

Second: show me your code. I want to see URLs to public repositories with your commits in them. (OpenHub statistics will do for a first cut.) Your credibility goes up with commit volume and number of different projects. and especially with the number of other people you have collaborated with.

In theory, I might be open to other metrics than commit volume for people who aren’t primarily software engineers. But that’s an edge case; the point is, whether it’s lines of code or Thingiverse objects or PCB layouts, I want to see evidence of contributed work.

There are three reasons I filter on this. One is that if you don’t contribute to the open-source work, I don’t consider that you have earned the right to lecture me or the open-source community on how we should behave or think.

Another is that if you haven’t put in time playing well with others, any claim you make to know how the community operates and whether it in fact suffers from ingrained prejudices is ungrounded. You need to know our problems, our adaptive strategies, and the reasons we organize and communicate the way we do before your opinion will be worth anything. Make your bones, get that experience, then maybe we can talk.

A third reason is that this is an extremely difficult filter for the people who generate false positives – the mentally disturbed, the drama queens, and the political carpetbaggers – to actually pass. Usually they suffer from a combination of stupidity, laziness, and antisociality that prevents them from contributing effectively. By stopping them here at an objective criterion we can avoid more difficult arguments about later filters.

Third: show me your evidence. I want to see evidence of specific harm, attack, or attempts to exclude, on identifiable victims, by identifiable perpetrators. It isn’t sufficient to say, for example, “Women (or black people, or gays) can’t get their patches accepted, or are sexually/racially taunted on forums.” and then wave your hands as though the accusation itself is to be treated as evidence and anyone demanding specifics is part of the problem.

I want to see concrete evidence of specific incidents – mailing-list traffic, IRC captures, pointers to web pages. If you can’t produce that evidence, you aren’t having a problem with the public behavior of hackers (or anyone else) and I can’t address it.

Fourth: Do not ever try to kafkatrap me. You do that, your credibility goes to negative infinity and stays there. You not only discredit yourself, you damage your allies and your cause.

Fifth: Convince me that you’re actually talking about anyone who actually regards me as a tribal elder. This means that you can’t go on about gamers, or 4chan, or neoreactionaries, or “brogrammers”, or any one of three dozen other on-line cultures or population categories in which a reasonable person might (rightly or wrongly) read evidence of bigotry, and expect me to care more than in a general, abstract way. They aren’t my people or my problem; you need to go find their tribal elders and complain to them.

If, on the other hand, you had a bad experience somewhere else and insist on sweeping open-source hackers into the same bucket because we look something like those people, or smell like them, or whatever…then you are the problem.

Sixth: If you have evidence of a specific instance, and want to persuade me that it is an index for a general pattern of prejudiced or hostile or belittling behavior, then come equipped with a generative theory of why your experience far from me differs from the almost ideally unprejudiced behavior I have observed near me over nearly forty years.

That is, you need to explain why I should consider that your claim of systemic prejudice flatly contradicts my everyday experience of hackers not caring about anything but quality of work. As a feminist would say, you need to not deny my lived experience.

Note: theories of the form “You’re blinded by your own prejudices/privilege” are kafkatrapping; see above, these will just set your credibility to negative infinity. Bring a theory which can be tested by falsifiable consequences, or don’t bother.

Generally, remember that neither I nor my community have a lot of patience for sloppy thinking, special pleading, or lazy guilt-tripping. If your reaction to this advice is to dismiss these as defensive rationalizations for not giving a shit, then we don’t give a shit about you.

If you pass all these filters, maybe you have something to teach me, and maybe you’ll get to see what I’m like when I am righteously pissed off because hacker norms have been violated in a serious way. It is part of my job to come down like the wrath of God when that happens – it’s what my community trusts and expects me to do.

That is all.

249 thoughts on “How to educate me about prejudice in the open-source community

  1. I’m curious: Did something specific trigger this?

    I wouldn’t expect you to say what; just wondering.

  2. >I’m curious: Did something specific trigger this?

    No, I’ve had it in my drafts queue for a while.

  3. Isn’t that not best practice in all engineering cultures?
    During my work as an engineer I never do judge based on skin color, race or Sex. I judge based on capabilities and whether the other person is good at his job.
    We work in multi-cultural teams for years now and while culture is sometimes a road block (Asian culture of loosing face for example) we learn to live with that. The Sorry topics of the left and right about color and Sex never have been a problem.

  4. I’ve had it in my drafts queue for a while.

    I almost skipped it because of the low ID!

  5. Where would the case of Susan Sharp (who stopped contributing to Linux kernel over alleged prejudice, if I remember it correctly) fall?

  6. >Where would the case of Susan Sharp (who stopped contributing to Linux kernel over alleged prejudice, if I remember it correctly) fall?

    Insufficient data.

  7. Very nice. Something you might want to add, maybe fits under #3 or #6, is that it’s not enough to show evidence of rude behavior; a person who is evenhandedly rude is not prejudiced merely because they are rude towards e.g. women as well as men.

  8. Where would the case of Susan Sharp (who stopped contributing to Linux kernel over alleged prejudice, if I remember it correctly) fall?

    I don’t think she demonstrated actual, specific prejudice; she just complained about a “toxic community” and made vague references to homophobic jokes and like without specifying perpetrator, victim, and content of offense.

    The hilarious bit is how Linus shut her down — by trying to out-SJW the SJW. He said basically “It’s called management by perkele. Look it up; it’s a Finnish thing. By scolding me for my behavior you’re disrespecting my culture.”

    It didn’t really work, of course; like a white suburban dad attempting hip-hop lingo, if you don’t come from the culture your attempts at manifesting behaviors of the culture come off as mere posturing. The extent to which Linus’s and others’ foul mouths are tolerated on official community fora is still considered a problem, and a factor which may alienate valuable potential kernel hackers. But points to Linus for effort.

  9. a person who is evenhandedly rude is not prejudiced merely because they are rude towards e.g. women as well as men.

    That was a major problem with Sharp’s case; Linus swears up a blue streak to all genders and ethnicities equally.

  10. This is an excellent example of rationality as it should be practiced. Hopefully it will also have an impact beyond this subject matter.

    This is the type of wisdom that should be propagated via our Darwinian heritage, and the only way that will happen is if the crazies are disincentivized to be insane.

  11. Start here:

    http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/02/data-analysis-of-github-contributions-reveals-unexpected-gender-bias/

    And read this for the full paper:

    https://peerj.com/preprints/1733/:

    TL;DR: Once someone is accepted into the community, what you say is absolutely correct: Only your code matters; women in the community are slightly likelier to have accepted code commits.

    For people who are new to the community, there are biases against women. The community is likelier to demand a known female coder ‘prove her worth’ to a much greater extent than for a male programmer.

    The obvious ‘solution’ — and one that is practiced nearly universally by long tenured women in Open Source communities, is to pass yourself off as genderless or male, and ideally as European or American.

    This may sound like I’m demanding special pleading. I’m not. Compared to commercial programming, Open Source is vastly better for women who can get accepted within the community in the first place.

    My plea is this: If you’re a hierate in the community, not even a tribal elder…offer to mentor female coders *specifically* as an experiment. Observe, annotate, and build data sets. In particular, like any mentor/mentee relationship, be aware of people who’re throwing flak at your pupil, and why.

    Gaming (tabletop and online) has a similar profile: The women who get into the community and stay there tend to be as capable of dishing disses and smack talk as the guys. The ones who try the community out get shoved away from the community by insecure wankers, who, not having climbed the hierarchy themselves…see a woman in the community and decide that they, at last, have someone they can shit on to make themselves feel bigger.

  12. >For people who are new to the community, there are biases against women. The community is likelier to demand a known female coder ‘prove her worth’ to a much greater extent than for a male programmer.

    My senior apprentice is female. We have discussed this, and her report does not match yours.

    That said, I can think of several possible reasons women might think they have a tougher time getting in. One of them is prejudice, but that is implicitly argued against by the paper you cite.

    The first thought that occurs to me is that women may not objectively getting more pressure to prove themselves, but believe they are because they are more sensitive to signals of social challenge and disapproval than men are.

    Another possibility is that they are objectively getting more pressure, but that this is a rational response to some kind of incentive that changes sign once they’re accepted contributors. I can think of a couple of possibilities, but I’m not going to go into them yet lest the discussion rathole on that.

    >Gaming (tabletop and online) has a similar profile

    Careful. It’s tempting to think that hackers have the same issues about female newbies that gamers do, but there’s less similarity than you’d think. I could find male gamers talking smack about gurrrls with probably five minutes of searching; on the other hand, male hackers talking the same kind of smack is so rare that I don’t recall ever having actually seen it myself, though I have heard one or two reports that seem credible. (This is in forty years, mind you.)

  13. >That github study was mostly p-hacking.

    I know what p-hacking means as a general term. In what specific way do you propose it distorted the results of this study?

  14. @ Ken Burnside

    We have to stop viewing every form of hardship that we encounter in life as a disease that must be eradicated via social or political prohibition. Every time you ratchet down the threshold for taking offense at something, you encourage hypersensitivity rather resilience. In the extreme, this will turn every workplace into a whiner’s paradise. The proper response to an asshole or bully is to make them eat their words or give back twice as hard.

  15. Basically they sliced and diced the data until they got the answer they wanted. First, overall, they found that pull requests made by women are not less likely to be accepted than those made by men. Then they checked outsiders only — nope, women’s acceptance rate still higher. Then they checked distribution of acceptance rate. Then they checked acceptance rate over time. Then they checked by number of projects. Then they checked by whether or not the pulls were for a documented issue. Then they checked by change size, and by code type. None of these get the “women are discriminated against” result.

    Finally, they decide to determine whether there’s a difference based on whether or not the women were identifiable as such. But they don’t actually present those results; instead, they further slice the data into insiders and outsiders so it is split four ways. Now, finally, we see that in exactly one of those four groups (gendered — that is, gender identifiable) outsiders) women have fewer pull requests accepted than men. Gender bias found, roll the presses. The interesting fact that the acceptance rate for gendered men is less than that for gender neutral men is ignored.

    When the study came out, Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex did a post on it.

    http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/02/12/before-you-get-too-excited-about-that-github-study/

    (based on an older version of the study, so page numbers don’t match)

    His point #8 is on the P-hacking

    > 8. There’s no study-wide analysis, and no description of how many different subgroup analyses the study tried before settling on Insiders vs. Outsiders (nor how many different definitions of Insider vs. Outsider they tried). Remember, for every subgroup you try, you need to do a Bonferroni correction. This study does not do any Bonferroni corrections; given its already ambiguous confidence intervals, a proper correction would almost certainly destroy the finding.

    (The newer version of the study has less ambiguous confidence intervals)

  16. >Then they checked outsiders only — nope, women’s acceptance rate still higher.

    That doesn’t square very well with Ken’s model of female outsiders having extra trouble getting accepted.

  17. These requirements seem to be constructed in such a way that you’ll acknowledge only problems that you are prepared to accept as your responsibility. That’s not a problem if you take it as a given that someone telling you about a problem is attempting to convince you to take specific, concrete action in your capacity as an open-source hacker of standing. (Though I would suggest that this is not the only role you publicly fill.)

    I think that there is a possible sampling error here. Perhaps it can be clarified by a definition. What is “the community” to you? Is it “Current and former contributors to open-source projects?” Or is it “Individuals qualified to contribute to open-source projects?”

    Further, are your evidentiary standards intended to admit only evidence pertaining to discrimination *within* the community (however defined), or is evidence pertaining to discrimination affecting *entry into* the community also germane?

  18. >These requirements seem to be constructed in such a way that you’ll acknowledge only problems that you are prepared to accept as your responsibility.

    Not exactly. My primary concern is filtering out false reports, of which I think we have a politically-driven epidemic. Philosophically, I’m not “responsible” for the behavior of any other person!

    >What is “the community” to you?

    For purposes of this discussion, I’m prepared to accept a relaxed and maximalist definition that includes people trying to join.

    >is evidence pertaining to discrimination affecting *entry into* the community also germane?

    Absolutely. If the people behaving in a prejudiced manner are part of my tribe, I think it matters little whether the prejudice is directed at people already within the community or those trying to join.

    That has a qualification, though. I don’t think it’s really my business if a hacker is (say) a white supremacist off-line, but behaves in accordance with community norms about judging only by the work when dealing with hackers or hacker aspirants. That may seem unlikely, but human beings are bizarrely capable of compartmentalizing such behaviors.

    I would unload both barrels on someone like that if he engaged me in political discussion, but then it would be my obligation not to let my judgment of his character mess with my evaluation of his code. If I failed to maintain that separation, he would have a just complaint against me.

  19. A general point: If someone is claiming that code from different sorts of people is unfalirly evaluated, then it makes sense that this claim can only be made sensibly by someone who can evaluate code.

    However, whether insults are common doesn’t take that sort of knowledge– it doesn’t take the sort of careful filtering that claims about code requires.

    I’ve wondered whether the differering claims from women about prejudice against women among programmers could be a result of variations in local culture. Nobody’s lying or oversensitive, it’s just a matter of different experiences.

  20. >I’ve wondered whether the differering claims from women about prejudice against women among programmers could be a result of variations in local culture. Nobody’s lying or oversensitive, it’s just a matter of different experiences.

    I wish I could think of a way to test this theory.

  21. variations in local culture

    How would you even define “local”? Geographically? By some sort of globally shared community norms? By particular languageish/project community?

  22. > No, I’ve had it in my drafts queue for a while.

    I’m curious as to whether it has been in that queue for this long?

    http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=5069#comment-413098

    I’m not qualified to complain according to this post, so I’m just going to point out that I find this post interesting in the context of this behaviour.

    > This one is about accusations of sexism, racism, and other kinds of prejudice in the open-source culture.

    Does religion or religion-like characteristics count? If not, why not?

  23. [me] >I’ve wondered whether the differering claims from women about prejudice against women among programmers could be a result of variations in local culture. Nobody’s lying or oversensitive, it’s just a matter of different experiences.

    [esr] I wish I could think of a way to test this theory.

    I can’t think of a very clean way to test the theory, but it might be worth looking for whether there are clumps (people, community, time) of similar complaints and lack of complaints.

  24. Oh please God no, not this old horseshit again.

    I have had to suffer through interminable bullshit like “women in engineering” drives whilst involved in academia. The idea that ‘diversifying’ the workplace to ‘include’ more women will result in some magically superior vaginally-oriented-programming has never, ever struck gold.

    In fact, sad to say, I have seen more distressed young women drop out of CS courses…emotionally distraught that they failed to live up to some feminist ideal of ’empowerment’…than I care to quantify. They were all wonderful young ladies with bright minds and futures, but they had been fraudulently pushed into the wrong specialty. The crusty old feminist CS professors simply didn’t care about the damage they were doing. It was disgusting.

    As far as I’m concerned, XX or XY, if you have an intellect capable of wrapping itself around the mathematical abstractions required for software engineering, then you are a winner in my book, and I welcome you to my team with open arms.

    Why the fuck does it have to be any more complicated than that?

    (Rhetorical question – I already know the answer)

  25. >Does religion or religion-like characteristics count?

    Of course they do. You can be as crazy as you choose off the job and it’s nobody’s business.

  26. “I want to see URLs to public repositories with your commits in them.”

    Just a data point here: I nuked all my github repos and closed my account when they hired the reprehensible Coraline Ada Ehmke to work on “community management” and “anti-harassment”, which is analogous to hiring Dr. Goebbels to be the head of B’nai B’rith.

    I do not think I’m the only one who did this.

  27. @Doctor Locketopus –

    > “I want to see URLs to public repositories with your commits in them.”

    > Just a data point here: I nuked all my github repos and closed my account when they hired …

    I’m sure OGH would accept as valid evidence of one’s standing in the community history dumps of said repos, etc. I’m assuming you didn’t nuke your work, just the public sharing of such (at that one particular site). As long as you could demonstrate that you weren’t just a poseur, you would pass that second filter.

  28. “I’m sure OGH would accept as valid evidence of one’s standing in the community history dumps of said repos, etc.”

    Well, I’m actually at a stage in my life where I don’t need to show that kind of evidence, personally.

    I think I was unclear. Let me rephrase the hypothetical:

    What about a young person, just starting out, who needs to accumulate evidence, but doesn’t want to hand his code over to github (or any other SJW-converged repository site)?

    Are there any such sites? AFAICT, all the majors have fallen prey to Ehmke’s “Contributor Covenant” (or their own homegrown political purity tests with similar effect).

    What happened to code repositories being sites for sharing code, rather than sites for enforcing someone’s political agenda?

  29. @Doctor Locketopus –

    > What about a young person, just starting out, who needs to accumulate evidence, but doesn’t want to hand his code over to github (or any other SJW-converged repository site)?

    > Are there any such sites?

    It’s not that tough or expensive to set up your own website, hosted IDK where, and put a git repo on it.

    Yes, you won’t get a lot of public visibility – unless your stuff is good and valuable. Which is the real 2nd criterion OGH is looking for.

    We are in an era when better, non-political repo sites and software forges are desperately needed. We’ll get there soon. (Or at least eventually.)

  30. > You can be as crazy as you choose off the job and it’s nobody’s business.

    I think one of the reasons I’m seeing more dustups is because we’re seeing blurred lines between in-project and out-of-project communications. 10–20 years ago, someone could have odd opinions on some Usenet group and people outside that Usenet group wouldn’t be aware of said odd opinions.

    In the past five years or so, though, it seems easier to talk about things that happen elsewhere on the internet because so much more is on the Web and Twitter. These days, someone will say something odd on a pseudonymous blog of his, link to his day job from the opinion blog (but not in reverse), and then someone else can complain about his opinions on Twitter, broadcasting the odd opinions to everybody with fairly low friction…and low ignorability (if you’re on Twitter).

    I started seeing permeability increases a while ago. Gervase Markham wrote something about gay marriage on his own blog that indicated he wasn’t a supporter of the state mandating support of it. The post got picked up by the Planet Mozilla aggregator, and everyone got mad at both him and Mozilla for a couple of weeks.

    I’m not sure how to reinstate the old norms or make people more accepting of/indifferent to weird opinions.

  31. >Yes, you won’t get a lot of public visibility – unless your stuff is good and valuable.”

    I think you are grossly underestimating the size of the network effect from being on a prominent repo site. Grossly. “Not a lot” is a rather severe understatement here.

    > We are in an era when better, non-political repo sites and software forges are desperately needed. We’ll get there soon.

    Looking forward to it.

  32. I’d suggest to look at gitlab. Self-Hosted or not.

    That said, non-exclusive code of conduct and contribution guidelines aren’t a bad idea as long they aren’t aimed at singling out people in a way or another.


  33. > they had been fraudulently pushed into the wrong specialty. The crusty old feminist CS professors simply didn’t care about the damage they were doing. It was disgusting.

    — It is not the job of the professors to make “choices” for others. The job of professors is to teach and/or conduct research. These poor choices are due to other problems in the system. A lot of people (male+female) are “fraudulently pushed into the wrong specialty”. A lot more people are “fraudulently pushed” to get worthless degrees
    — Delete “gender studies” from academia will be on its way to recovery. Gender studies are academia’s cancer

  34. @Doctor Locketopus Is there not a single forge out here that you don’t find politically acceptable?

  35. That has a qualification, though. I don’t think it’s really my business if a hacker is (say) a white supremacist off-line, but behaves in accordance with community norms about judging only by the work when dealing with hackers or hacker aspirants. That may seem unlikely, but human beings are bizarrely capable of compartmentalizing such behaviors.

    While I don’t think he’s a “white supremacist” as such “off-line” in his essays under the pseudonym Moldbug, the travails of Curtis Yarvin as a pure hacker are illuminating, to the point I’m pretty sure they’ve killed any chance his Urbit might have in the so called marketplace of ideas. See also Brendan Eich and many less prominent people; as you have more than acknowledged, we have a severe problem of political prejudice in enough of the open-source community that I have to wonder if it’s even worth my time to try to start up my own major project that only makes sense if a community develops from it.

    Doubly annoying in that I didn’t really have a chance to fly under the radar, having started my on-line “political” presence under my True Name in the early ’80s, when PC was sufficiently young that being “conservative” didn’t outright earn ostracism.

  36. “I’ve wondered whether the differering claims from women about prejudice against women among programmers could be a result of variations in local culture. Nobody’s lying or oversensitive, it’s just a matter of different experiences.”

    Thinking about this some more…. Local variation should be assumed because people are like that.

    Some people are crazy or lying but I think the proportion is fairly low. More people will shade things a little in their favor.

    Part of the problem is that Social Justice doesn’t quantify. I think most people don’t quantify, but Social Justice is *really* bad at it. For them, every bad thing of a certain sort is equivalent to every other bad thing of that sort, regardless of size. This means that a couple of insults is counted as being as bad as sustained campaign of exclusion.

  37. @esr:

    > The first thought that occurs to me is that women may not objectively getting more pressure to prove themselves, but believe they are because they are more sensitive to signals of social challenge and disapproval than men are.

    I think this is part of it. Another part is that the standard nerd personality (including a good proportion of hackers) tends to be even more insensitive to social cues than the average man, even more inclined not to suffer fools lightly, and even more inclined to run with lots of interrupts masked. All of these factors, from what I’ve seen, tend to strongly contribute to strife between genders.

  38. >I’m sure OGH would accept as valid evidence of one’s standing in the community history dumps of said repos,

    Yes, though with some reluctance. The reason I specified “public” is that open-source work ought to be part of a public conversation that anyone can contribute to. It’s easy enough to set up your own publicly-accessible repository that I don’t see a lot of point in shipping around dumps.

  39. Re Your point #1.

    “You don’t get to determine whether or not I care if you’re offended.”
    (h/t Instapundit, a few days ago).

  40. >Is there not a single forge out here that you don’t find politically acceptable?

    I don’t know — that’s why I asked. :-) Certainly github (the 2,000 pound gorilla here) isn’t. Gitlab also has a CoC (though I’m not sure if that applies to self-hosting — it may not).

    “Politically acceptable” is the wrong term here, I think. I want it to be politically blind. A political agenda of any sort is the Wrong Thing.

    Note, and note well, that this doesn’t necessarily mean that I disagree with all of the (alleged) goals in the various CoCs. For instance, I don’t oppose gay marriage. More precisely, I don’t think the government should be involved in marriage in the first place, other than as a recorder of the contract, and providing a court system to apportion disputed assets (and children) if the contract is dissolved. I just don’t think that kind of stuff belongs in a friggin’ software repo. What the hell does that have to do with anything? This mania for dragging personal politics into every single aspect of life has gotten way out of hand.

    And nope, setting up your own server isn’t the answer for young people trying to make a name for themselves.

    Example: go to Google and search for “markdown parser Javascript”. Count how many pages you have to go through before you find a link that a) goes to actual code and b) is not hosted on GitHub.

    It’s all very well to say that better code will win out, but that’s not going to happen if no one ever sees it.

  41. Fascinating.

    By that definition, I’m not certain I would have any standing to complain. My last major OSS contributions were ~10 years ago. Since then I’ve gone on to work for $MEGA_TECH_FIRM[2] where very little, if any, of my work is publicly visible.

    I suspect Eric would hear me out because he knows me personally, but that doesn’t scale. OTOH, I’m not exactly “plugged-in” any more, either. Interesting thought experiment.

  42. >By that definition, I’m not certain I would have any standing to complain.

    You’re an interesting borderline case – past contributor, still culturally connected in a way J. Random Codemonkey wouldn’t be. I think that gives you some standing, though in your shoes I would think it wise to listen more than I talk in a gathering of insiders.

  43. All right, I must be missing something. Does GitHub not accept repositories for projects that don’t use an SJW-compliand code of conduct?

  44. All right, I must be missing something. Does GitHub not accept repositories for projects that don’t use an SJW-compliand code of conduct?

    No, it’s not nearly that silly. I have a bunch of things there, some public, none with a code of conduct. On the other hand, there’s this egregious case:

    Interesting. For projects that don’t need a “community” we’ve been using Amazon CodeCommit.

    We don’t like to use Github anymore because of the politics there. Example: We had a project involving software filters that included this sentence in the description:

    > Phase is related to time, but a pure time delay does not involve any phase shift. A pure time delay or “group delay” is constant with frequency. Phase shift varies with frequency and can advance or retard as the frequency changes.

    We got a note from a woman who works at github who was apparently scanning open source projects for “offensive” words. Our project was flagged for the use of the word “retard”.

    We removed our project and never used github again.

  45. >A while back a woman named Valerie Aurora wrote an article about harassment at Open Source conferences that I believe meets all of your criteria:

    It comes close. However, Valerie Aurora is a bit of a red flag.

    A women-in-tech activist I know and trust says Ms. Aurora has been known to fabricate incidents, and that an internal fight over this led to the shutdown of the Ada Initiative in 2015. My informant doesn’t want to be named because whether these misdeeds should be admitted is a hot controversy in activist circles; some think that closing ranks around an admittedly flawed leader is less bad for the movement than the credibility hit it would take from admitting that Ms. Aurora has been spinning yarns. It is not alleged by anyone that that all her claims are false.

    I believe this report in part because a different source informed me that the Ada Initiative made repeated attempts to honeytrap Linus.

    All this does not mean I assume the entire article is bogus, but it does mean I would need to check with some of the women she cites as sources before giving it much weight. Two of them are known to me. Cat Allman I would trust to give an accurate report; the other one, maybe not.

    The fact that the most serious allegations are the ones least tied to any source that can be checked independently of Ms. Aurora’s report does nothing to raise my trust level.

  46. I will say, having discussed this issue with some trustworthy women in the hard sciences(including the one I’m marrying), there’s some stuff that can escape our view as guys. There’s been a few instances of “Huh, he seemed like such a nice guy” “Yeah, he is to you, because he doesn’t want to get in your pants”(or similar) that seem to have held up to what amount of scrutiny that I’m able to give them, and come from people who I trust not to be unreasonable on these issues.

    On the whole, your rules seem reasonable(a potential petitioner will likely disagree, but you have the same incentive as all public people to implement strong filters to minimize wasted time, which seems perfectly fair to me), and I’m not disagreeing with them. And, like you, I’ve found the tech community to be wonderfully low on prejudice overall. But I just want to strike a note of caution – we’re discussing societally unacceptable behaviours of intelligent humans here, so they’re both strongly incentivized to hide them when possible and at least somewhat capable of doing so. Some sins will necessarily exist out of our view.

  47. >Some sins will necessarily exist out of our view.

    That is true. Not sure what we can do about that, though, short of widespread lifelogging.

  48. It’s not really actionable information inits own right. I more intend it as a data point to help calibrate skepticism levels than anything else.

  49. > In this essay, I will show that the kafkatrap is a form of argument that is so fallacious and manipulative that those subjected to it are entitled to reject it based entirely on the form of the argument.

    Later.

    > Yeah, that confirms it; you’re a complete drooling nutter.

    Still later.

    > Of course [religious prejudice counts.] You can be as crazy as you choose off the job and it’s nobody’s business.

    I am of the opinion that not making an argument at all and going straight for the ad hominem is a lower form of argumentation than the kafkatrap. If you ever explained the thought process that led you to make these comments, I certainly missed it and would appreciate a link.

    Also, what if it *does* affect my work? According to Colossians 3:22-24, it’s supposed to.

  50. >If you ever explained the thought process that led you to make these comments, I certainly missed it and would appreciate a link.

    You have a short memory, and I don’t think it’s worth my time to argue with you.

  51. @Doctor Locketopus “What happened to code repositories being sites for sharing code, rather than sites for enforcing someone’s political agenda?”

    The term of art you’re looking for is “converged.”

    “Even as the institutions have been invaded and coopted in the interests of social justice, they have been rendered unable to fulfill their primary functions. This is the great internal contradiction that the SJWs will never be able to positively resolve, just as the Soviet communists were never able to resolve the contradiction of socialist calculation that brought down their economy and their empire 69 years after Ludwig von Mises first pointed it out. One might call it the Impossibility of Social Justice Convergence; no man can serve two masters and no institution can effectively serve two different functions. The more an institution converges towards the highest abstract standard of social and distributive justice, the less it is able to perform its primary function.”

    From _SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police_ by Vox Day

  52. >>For projects that don’t need a “community” we’ve been using Amazon CodeCommit.

    Thanks for quoting the piece that mentioned this. I’d somehow missed seeing CodeCommit among the three billion other Amazon cloud services. While it doesn’t solve the public visibility problem, it does meet my need for an off-site repo without a) giving money to some SJW-converged operation like GitHub or b) playing sysadmin myself (which I can do, and did do for many years… I don’t just want to do that any more, thanks).

  53. >What about other participants in Open Source projects, such as artists, documentation writers, etc?

    The answer isn’t obvious? I said “contributed work”; there’s little point in being fussy about what kind.

  54. @Terry,

    “I am of the opinion that not making an argument at all and going straight for the ad hominem is a lower form of argumentation than the kafkatrap.”

    Where did esr go for the ad hominem? The ad hominem fallacy does not mean insulting or vehemently criticizing people. It means a specific kind of wrongful inference of the form “Bob is wrong because he is ugly” or “Alice’s logic is incorrect because she is a fascist”. These are fallacies because they attack the arguer as a substitute for attacking the argument, which is bad reasoning.

    There is no fallacy involved in saying that Alice and Bob are wrong and ugly and fascists and crazy drooling nutters. Also, there is no fallacy involved in merely calling Carol names. Neither is there any fallacy in saying that one ought not to listen to David because David is a serial liar – as this is an attack on the credibility of David’s premises rather than on David’s logic.

    But when you appear to mistake vulgarity for fallacy as in your post, I think you might be committing a form of the ad hominem yourself: “esr is wrong because esr is impolite”.

  55. > I don’t think it’s really my business if a hacker is (say) a white supremacist off-line

    What’s the definition of “off-line”? I don’t remember the specifics offhand, but ISTR one recent high-profile fight was regarding someone’s conduct on a twitter account that said something like “[project] core developer” in the page header.

  56. RE: Ms. Aurora’s claims

    First off I would say that it’s perfectly fair to say that the listed criteria are necessary but not sufficient to inspire a corrective response. I would even go further to say that any reasonable person should assume that a list of this kind is of the necessary-but-not-sufficient variety.

    In this specific case you’re better able to verify the veracity of the stated claims than I am, and you stated at least some measure of willingness to do so.

    So call it a semantic quibble, but I would say that article _does_ meet the stated criteria, and you _are_ educating yourself about this topic.

    The beauty of a crisp factual write-up is that the credibility of the author becomes less important. As implied, regardless of how one feels about Ms. Aurora’s trustworthiness that essay contains a sufficient amount of attributed statements for a person to independently verify the central claim.

  57. >What’s the definition of “off-line”?

    There was a time when I would have thought a lot about this and emitted a beautifully worked out a-prioristic answer. That was before I fully understood what lawyers are driving at when they said “Hard cases make bad law”.

    Decisions like this are a lot like trying to figure out your own utility function. You don’t have the information to do it, in part because your preferences don’t actually form until they’re elicited by having to deal with a real-world tradeoff.

    So now my answer is: put a detailed case before me and we’ll see.

  58. >that essay contains a sufficient amount of attributed statements for a person to independently verify the central claim.

    I’m not sure that’s true. It depends on what one thinks the “central claim” is.

  59. “It is wrong for anyone to be attacked, belittled, or excluded because of the color of their skin, the shape of their genitals, what they like to do with their genitals, their politics, their religion, or any other irrelevancy.”

    A pretty old example from the Oxford Dictionary included the criminally insane. What he did with his genitals is rather uncommon in modern times.

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25019.The_Professor_and_the_Madman

  60. I don’t think there’s a ton of direct and overt sexism, etc., in the open source community. I do think we generally show at least solid echoes of broader societal issues. I present ambiguously as to gender, and I do notice people who read me as female treating me worse in *lots* of technical contexts.

    I think, mostly, this piece feels to me like, on the one hand, it’s a pretty reasonable standard for what it’s a standard for… But I don’t think that “the standards I need to be persuaded by in order to come down on people like the wrath of one or more deities” is an *important* standard, because for the most part, that’s not really a useful thing. (If nothing else, it’s almost certainly not an effective way to persuade people to change *their* behavior, so it’s not clear why we’d want you to do it.)

    That said, there’s a fun little experiment you can do sometime when bored: Find similar technical forums, and ask similar or identical questions on them using obviously-male or obviously-female names, and see whether people treat you the same way. My experience has been that there’s quite noticeable differences in how people relate to someone they’ve never met before given no cues but a gendered name. I don’t think this is a good thing at all, but it appears to be the case.

    A thing I find fascinating is that if I’m around tumblrites, most of the time “SJW” is used fairly narrowly to refer to people who are behaving egregiously, using a thin veneer of social-justice ligo to cover their behaviors, but that when I get into other communities, I often start seeing it used to refer to people who say things like “maybe you shouldn’t go out of your way to specifically remind people that you think their romantic entanglements with other consenting adults are disgusting”.

  61. @ESR,
    You set a reasonably high standard for cases of harassment that you will act on, but between “clear harassment” and “clearly fabricated allegation” there is a gulf of interpersonal conflict that can affect communities.

    I curious what your thoughts are on this matter. I think we also need to talk about how we can resolve such conflicts productively and without resorting to the language of victim/perpetrator. To this end, I like Dr. Crista Lopes’ notion of “Sexual Conflict”[0]. That is, the fact that there is a perceived injustice is itself a problem and should be addressed without necessarily assigning blame to any party.

    [0] http://tagide.com/blog/academia/sexual-conflict/

  62. >That is, the fact that there is a perceived injustice is itself a problem and should be addressed without necessarily assigning blame to any party.

    Not interested. This kind of talk is a license for competitive grievance-mongering and political carpetbagging. One of my concerns is to prevent that.

  63. >But I don’t think that “the standards I need to be persuaded by in order to come down on people like the wrath of one or more deities” is an *important* standard, because for the most part, that’s not really a useful thing. (If nothing else, it’s almost certainly not an effective way to persuade people to change *their* behavior, so it’s not clear why we’d want you to do it.)

    If it is actually effective at changing behavior it is immediately obvious why my community wants someone (contingently but not necessarily me) to do it. If it’s not actually effective but people believe it to be effective, people will still want someone to do it.

    As to whether it’s effective, if one of the things you desire is to have high status in a tribe, I think having an elder roar “Don’t do that shit!” at you can be a pretty heavy thing. And indeed there are known instances in which “ESR” speaking ex cathedra shut down some pretty serious misbehavior; one was the DoS attack on SCO back in 2003.

  64. @lliamander That is, the fact that there is a perceived injustice is itself a problem and should be addressed without necessarily assigning blame to any party.

    Isn’t this just another variant of kafkatrapping? “The evidence of the problem is that we say there is a problem.”

  65. >Isn’t this just another variant of kafkatrapping? “The evidence of the problem is that we say there is a problem.”

    To make it all the way to indisputable kafkatrap it needs to mutate slightly: “Your denial that there is a problem is evidence of the problem.”

  66. I think lliamander’s reference to Crista Lopes has an interesting idea in principle, of extending the notion of “conflict of interest” and related ways of handling it to the sexual arena so as to be able to politely and calmly discuss behavior that starts to edge out of good conduct. One probably shouldn’t propose certain kinds of technically legitimate business deals which look awfully similar to financial bribes with deniability (whether offering or soliciting), and one likewise probably shouldn’t extend certain kinds of technically legitimate sexual invitations that look awfully similar to sexual bribes with deniability.

    But this particular proposal’s execution is absolutely atrocious, and I have to read it very charitably and guess what the author meant to find it reasonable, when what’s written is sloppy, prejudicial, stupid, and riddled with unfortunate implications. Consider this:

    “One may now argue that this leaves a large portion of the population vulnerable to false accusations of sexual conflict, just because people have all sorts of different perceptions in inter-personal situations. True. But the odds are heavily in favor of the truth; it happens, but it’s very rare that victims of unwelcomed sexual advances, harassment or assault make those stories up entirely.

    Emphasis mine. Yes, I should indeed think it is rare that victims make their stories up entirely. In fact I believe it’s a core element of the very definition of a victim that they aren’t entirely making it up. If someone makes up an allegation, surely they’re a *perpetrator*. I imagine the author meant to write something more along the lines of an assertion that it’s rare that *reports* are made up entirely, but that’s not what’s written.

    Or this:

    “The main problem with the current situation is that a sexual harassment accusation is too high of a bar for most people to claim, and can have tremendous consequences both for the accuser and the accused. As a consequence, the victims of unwelcomed sexual attention are reluctant to report those situations, and prefer to dismiss them and simply avoid the perpetrator (“creep!”) in the future. From an institutional perspective, this is bad, because the person who made the unwelcomed sexual advances once is likely to do it over and over again to other people, in varying degrees of offensive behavior, until one day the whole thing explodes (and that’s the happy ending!).

    Again, emphasis mine.
    A trivial objection: No, the happy ending is that the person who made the unwelcomed sexual advances makes *welcomed* sexual advances to someone else and becomes happily married and sexually satisfied and feels no need to make further sexual advances.
    A more serious underlying objection: There is no general way of knowing ahead of time if a sexual advance is unwelcome (that’s part of what many sexual advances are for: determining if interest is mutual), and a general ban on sexual advances fails the laugh test. Thus you need to be a lot more specific than – or say something rather different from – ‘unwelcome sexual advances’ when raising the banner of Something Must Be Done. Again we’re in territory where I can loosely intuit from context that the author seems to mean something more reasonable, but it’s not what’s written.

  67. I only accept demands as to proper evidence of discrimination from people who have successfully addressed discrimination in the past and supported those who have faced it. Please link me to the mailing list threads where you have supported underrepresented developers.

  68. >I only accept demands as to proper evidence of discrimination from […]

    I only had to read that far to know that you are nobody I want to deal with or believe I owe any explanations to. Come back, if you come back, when you’ve gotten over yourself and learned some epistemic humility.

  69. @Beth:

    Reading comprehension fail. esr doesn’t demand anything from you, unless you come to him for help. So if you don’t think he can help, don’t bother.

  70. @Erik Yes, I should indeed think it is rare that victims make their stories up entirely.

    I saw a report (can’t find it now) that as many as ~2/3 of rape accusations are false across the US. Having had some personal experience with such it’s not hard to believe. Granted, many of those are not “made up entirely” but fall in the various categories of regret-rape or you-pissed-me-off-so-I’m-gonna-get-you-rape.

    , and a general ban on sexual advances fails the laugh test.

    That seems to be where college campuses are headed. But then much of what happens at institutions of “higher learning” no longer fails the laugh test.

  71. Anyone who has raised a pet from infancy is familiar with an innate behavior they exhibit with other litter mates, namely mock aggression. Evolution has equipped them with this because it “works” in the sense that it aids in their develop of ancient survival skills. This behavior often extends to their interaction with humans who later bond with them.

    A similar behavior set is found in human children and is typically referred to as schoolyard roughhousing. It even exists in later development, e.g. “busting chops” among sports teammates and military recruits.

    Evolution doesn’t know that we now live in a world in which real hardship is nearly non-existent and these ancient innate behaviors may eventually become obsolete.

    More to the point, do we really want to excise this behavior from our innate heritage? Are we absolutely sure that we will never again need warrior spirit or martial skill in the future?

    As for me, I do not aspire to be an adept whiner seeking the approbation of the herd.

  72. > that’s part of what many sexual advances are for: determining if interest is mutual … a general ban on sexual advances fails the laugh test.

    Would it? I mean, depending on what you mean by “general”, I suppose. But would it kill people, really, to keep it to the singles bars and other normal contexts for that sort of thing? Or use something like Tinder?

  73. >I suppose. But would it kill people, really, to keep it to the singles bars and other normal contexts for that sort of thing?

    Er, what planet are you from again? There isn’t any human social activity involving mixed adults that doesn’t have elements of mating dance and sexual display to it. The only way this could be different is if human reproductive biology were different – say, if our females had a fixed estrus cycle. Then we’d have different mating strategies and different instinctive behaviors. As it is, we’re biologically locked into a pattern where males always want to fuck pulchritude and females always want to fuck high status and all our social behaviors are designed on some level to (you should pardon the expression) lubricate that market.

    Protesting that it shouldn’t be like that is a lot like protesting that water shouldn’t run downhill. If you can exert enough social pressure you can make people feel bad about what horny primates they are, but since the underlying biology is constant the effect never lasts – they go right back to sexual signaling at each other the moment they’re not putting conscious effort into not doing that.

    You can consider this a tragedy or a comedy. Either way it’s a central fact about humans.

  74. I think one of the primary obligations of being a good person is achieving the strength and discipline to interpose our mindful self between those biological imperatives and our expressed behavior. That applies to all the basics, eat, fight, flight or fuck. In fact, in the martial arts we begin by learning discipline over the most basic imperative of all, the breath.

    So if I find myself interacting with an attractive person in a professional context, it’s my job to put that response aside and present a purely professional face. That means strictly neutral body language, and conversation limited to the same set of office topics I discuss with everyone else. Honestly, it’s a pretty low bar.

    We discussed technical conferences earlier on, and they expose a grey area where the context can shift from the purely professional to the purely social. So it is obviously true that a sufficiently large conference will surely have more than one pair of strangers who will happily hook up. However, if I think about the experience of an attractive woman at such an event, surrounded by males, I imagine that even appropriate expressions of interest would rapidly become tiresome and unpleasant, particularly during working hours. Selfishly speaking, sex with strangers carries other risks, and given that another conference participant has the power to impact one’s professional standing, I don’t see that risk being worth the reward. Therefore, I think good behavior at such things is to err on the side of extreme caution and maintain a strictly professional (not to be confused with formal!) attitude.

    Not everyone will agree with that standard, although I do think it meets the bar of universally applicable good judgement. However, I suspect we would all agree that any kind of work related context changes the mating game dramatically. So for example, while initiating casual touching might be okay at a singles bar, in a work related context, absent a plain language invite, its a very bad idea no matter how a person has read the mating dance signals.

  75. As it is, we’re biologically locked into a pattern where males always want to fuck pulchritude and females always want to fuck high status

    I feel like this should be obvious, but I don’t actually see a straightforward chain of reasoning to prove it: how does one get from this biologically-selected preference to the social convention that it must be the man asking out / proposing marriage to / otherwise pursuing the woman? If a woman is interested in a man, we have all these semi-ritual games where she drops hints or gets her friends to manipulate the man’s behaviour. I can’t really think of a parallel where men are expected to indirectly orchestrate things so that the woman takes action without prompting; they’re instead expected to achieve that end by putting the question to her directly.

    The upshot of this is that these “unwanted sexual advances” are a gender issue, and not merely a general etiquette subject, largely because they are male-to-female much more commonly than the reverse.

  76. > the moment they’re not putting conscious effort into not doing that.

    But why is it so unreasonable to ask for contexts to exist where such an effort is required of everyone?

  77. >how does one get from this biologically-selected preference to the social convention that it must be the man asking out / proposing marriage to / otherwise pursuing the woman?

    It’s bioenergetics. Female reproductive capacity is scarcer than male reproductive capacity (limited fertile periods, etc). Male pursuit follows from the resulting demand curves.

  78. >But why is it so unreasonable to ask for contexts to exist where such an effort is required of everyone?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to ask. What you can’t expect is for humans to reliably execute on that request even if they think they ought to. Even intelligent humans with low time preference, like your peer group, aren’t very good at this. In a population that’s not as good at deferring gratification… well, let’s just say purdah is not a crazy custom.

  79. @ Sean C.

    You’re responding as an individual and have every right to conduct yourself according to that code of behavior. You may even wish to serve as a role model for others, and your success will likely be influenced by the degree to which others value your judgement and seek to follow your lead.

    The problem occurs when some individual (or group of like-minded individuals) acquires a significant amount of power and then attempts to impose their will on others via coercion or force (think government at it’s worst). Do will really need to police every technical conference in order to assure an arbitrary standard of civility and decorum? Or would we be better off holding individuals to account for their individual behavior in the instant case? In my youth, bad behavior got you a slap in the face (and sometimes it was worth it).

  80. > Would it? I mean, depending on what you mean by “general”, I suppose. But would it kill people, really, to keep it to the singles bars and other normal contexts for that sort of thing? Or use something like Tinder?

    In addition to the above responses, I note that you can still get unwanted sexual advances on Tinder.

  81. @TomA, yes, you’re right, whether bad outcomes are best managed by restricting freedoms or by imposing consequences is a very difficult question. I find that many people approach it with a bias one way or another (personally, as a liberal I tend to be rather more in favor of policies and guidelines for this kind of thing), and it’s such a thorny topic I can’t say that either bias is wrong. I will say that when I discuss these things with responsible individuals we often start with differing biases, and then come to agreement about specific tactics.

    We agree that in a perfect world such things wouldn’t be necessary, but as ESR points out due to our crappy primate biology, we don’t live in that world. From time to time, all of us fail to exercise a healthy level of discipline over our unwise impulses, and some of us fail to do so regularly.

    Most generally, I employ a heuristic I call “Three sigma stupid”, but nowadays might be more succinctly described as “This is why we can’t have nice things.” The idea is related to the Tragedy of the Commons. For any shared privilege where people’s abuse of said privilege impacts others, there is a trade off between the benefit accrued to the responsible actors vs. the suffering imposed by the idiots. If the suffering is great enough compared to the benefit, then we’re all better off without said privilege.

    So, for example, driving. The butchers bill for using cars is staggering, but they’re so damn useful we’re better off to put up with the carnage. On the other hand, the benefit of biological weapons is so small compared to the potential harm that no one is really crying out for the repeal of restrictions on weaponized anthrax spores!

    In the case of technical conferences, first off it’s important to note that any kind of professional context restricts peoples freedom somewhat, insofar as choosing not to participate in a conference imposes a larger penalty on someone than choosing to go to a different singles bar. And more concretely, given the longer term professional contacts, turning down a romantic overture at a conference also carries some amount of longer term penalty than rejecting a creep at a bar. Particularly if that overture comes from someone in a place of power in said community.

    Furthermore, since the gender balance at a technical conference is so skewed, placing the burden of behavior correction on the individuals mean that the women have to shoulder much of that load, which is hardly fair, and presented evidence suggests rises to such a level as to cause people to limit their contribution in order to avoid the unpleasantness. In fact, at one conference I attended a female colleague invited me out to a solo dinner, and as a married man away from home, I felt a bit uncomfortable about it and politely declined. If I was a single female and had to do that once or twice a day, well, that would really suck. And that’s the mildest possible form of such things. If I had to slap people across the face on a regular basis I would rise up in protest. As people have.

    So in the end, I don’t think the requested restrictions; written codes of conduct, plain speaking about acceptable behaviors that help everyone participate in comfort, restriction of sexualized content in presentations, etc. is too much to ask.

  82. >Furthermore, since the gender balance at a technical conference is so skewed, placing the burden of behavior correction on the individuals mean that the women have to shoulder much of that load, which is hardly fair

    But that’s going to happen anyway, for as long as we’re locked into a males-pursue/females-select game. Bioenergetics again. The whole system is “unfair”, but so are lots of things men have to put up with, like being stuck with almost all the jobs that are dirty and dangerous.

  83. > It’s perfectly reasonable to ask. What you can’t expect is for humans to reliably execute on that request even if they think they ought to.

    Okay, let me be perfectly clear. Why is it wrong to demand that the community attempt to correct people who fail to do so and ostracize people who willfully refuse to make an effort? All this was implied in my intended meaning of “required”.

  84. Why is it wrong to demand that the community attempt…

    It seems to me that ESR is laying out the standards of “proof” neccessary to demand that members of his community should provide before he, as a member of that community, will “correct” people. You can’t demand that “communities” do anything social. You can demand that members do.

  85. Followup: A community is a container (like any other group of people). The sloppy anthropomorphism of attributing agency to groups of people as though the group is an individual is a persistent logical error.

  86. >Okay, let me be perfectly clear. Why is it wrong to demand that the community attempt to correct people who fail to do so and ostracize people who willfully refuse to make an effort?

    Who are you arguing against? I don’t think anyone has taken this position. In fact, the direct opposite is implied by my OP.

  87. >>That is, the fact that there is a perceived injustice is itself a problem and should be addressed without necessarily assigning blame to any party.

    >Not interested. This kind of talk is a license for competitive grievance-mongering and political carpetbagging. One of my concerns is to prevent that.

    Perhaps there is risk of that, and I would certainly not want to encourage that form of opportunism. I’m assuming that much of what people perceive to be harassment is just misunderstandings (or just conflicting personalities or values) rather than actual harassment, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still problems that could hurt the community.

    I would think a good goal would be to avoid even the appearance of harassment (such as what Pieter Hintjens talks about [0]). Part of that is setting a high bar for “prosecuting” harassment, which you do, but the other part is designing social spaces and norms to help minimize misunderstandings.

    > Isn’t this just another variant of kafkatrapping? “The evidence of the problem is that we say there is a problem.”

    No. I’m not saying that the accusation is proof of the crime. Rather, that the existence of the accusation is proof that there is some sort of conflict, and that unless the tribal elders take care there could be consequences in the community. It could be that the accuser is themselves a bad actor, or it could be that the accuser and accused have different norms regarding what constitutes a polite and civil interaction. Ideally the principal actors involved would have enough social acumen to resolve the conflict between themselves (or at least keep it from hurting the community at large) but that’s not always guaranteed.

    >I think lliamander’s reference to Crista Lopes has an interesting idea in principle, of extending the notion of “conflict of interest” and related ways of handling it to the sexual arena so as to be able to politely and calmly discuss behavior that starts to edge out of good conduct…But this particular proposal’s execution is absolutely atrocious, and I have to read it very charitably and guess what the author meant to find it reasonable, when what’s written is sloppy, prejudicial, stupid, and riddled with unfortunate implications.

    I actually had a similar assessment (though perhaps not as critical). I think my negative reaction stemmed in part because I think she belongs to my “outgroup” but the core of her idea was reasonable and interesting enough that I thought it worth referencing.

  88. > Furthermore, since the gender balance at a technical conference is so skewed, placing the burden of behavior correction on the individuals mean that the women have to shoulder much of that load, which is hardly fair, and presented evidence suggests rises to such a level as to cause people to limit their contribution in order to avoid the unpleasantness.

    Perspective is an interesting thing. On the one hand, I understand and agree with your point about the burden women in technical conferences may have to deal with. On the other hand, many of the men at such conferences are probably deathly afraid of simply being perceived as having expressed improper sexual advances towards the few women that are there (whether they were actually making advances or not).

    I think traditional sexual mores are useful for minimizing the burden on both sexes. Also, I think that sex-segregated environments are useful escape for both sexes from what ESR refers to as “bioenergetics” – one that has been increasingly outlawed.

  89. @ Sean C.

    You seem to care about this problem (dishonorable treatment of women in male-dominated work settings), but your focus is on fixing the “men” as a class no matter how small the fraction of bad actors may be. If you flip the coin, this is the equivalent of trying to fix “women” as a class because a few occasionally act like bitches. Where does this social engineering process end?

    The only reason we have this hypersensitivity to petty problems is because we do not face real hardship in our daily lives anymore. Our survival skill set is no longer focused on superior defensive prowess against existential threats or intelligence-driven food acquisition, but in it’s place we are now evolving toward becoming skilled manipulators of other humans. Is this really where you want to take us as a species?

  90. @Sean C
    > So if I find myself interacting with an attractive person in a professional context, it’s my job to put that response aside and present a purely professional face. That means strictly neutral body language, and conversation limited to the same set of office topics I discuss with everyone else. Honestly, it’s a pretty low bar.

    This is actually a very high bar. Certainly when you have unattached young men and women in that professional context. Strictly neutral body language is unlikely; there are involuntary responses to seeing an attractive person (no, I don’t mean THAT one… dilation of pupils, increase in heart rate, sweat, changes in respiration) that will tip the other party off. None of the companies I’ve worked for — and this includes stodgy old IBM — have attempted to enforce such an unrealistic standard, and it’s probably undesirable to do so considering how many couples I know who met at work.

    You do spend a lot of time at work, if you’ve got a traditional job. Do you really think it is a good idea to spend a lot of time with people you are attracted to, who you reasonably think are attracted to you, and never even make a move because of some idea of political propriety? The rule of not dipping your quill into the office ink is “more honored in the breech than the observance”.

  91. esr:

    My senior apprentice is female.

    You mean Susan “HedgeMage” Sons? She hasn’t touched her Google+ page in weeks (I’d even say a couple of months), so I’ve been wanting to ask you: is she alright?

  92. >is she alright?

    She’s fine, just frantically busy. We’re planning to spend four hours scoping out a new project on Friday.

  93. > It seems to me that ESR is laying out the standards of “proof” neccessary to demand that members of his community should provide before he, as a member of that community, will “correct” people. You can’t demand that “communities” do anything social. You can demand that members do.

    My problem isn’t with the standard of proof, it’s with the standard of offense. That “unwanted sexual advances” just aren’t enough of a problem (not in number but in severity) to be worth correcting even if you see it in front of you. That may not actually be ESR’s position, or Erik’s, but they’ve both damn well fooled me if it’s not, with all this stuff about human nature and inevitability and boys will be boys so why even bother with being more than animals?

  94. >That “unwanted sexual advances” just aren’t enough of a problem (not in number but in severity) to be worth correcting even if you see it in front of you.

    Not my position. Probably not Erik’s. Want to try again?

  95. My position:

    One, “unwanted sexual advances” are fundamentally not a correctable problem. I don’t mean in the sense that you cannot drive the rate all the way to zero, but in the sense that you cannot drive the rate below the billions. Again:

    >There is no general way of knowing ahead of time if a sexual advance is unwelcome (that’s part of what many sexual advances are for: determining if interest is mutual), and a general ban on sexual advances fails the laugh test. Thus you need to be a lot more specific than – or say something rather different from – ‘unwelcome sexual advances’ when raising the banner of Something Must Be Done.

    For humans to reproduce, this mostly not being either Brave New World or a caricatured cavemanry where men drag women off by the hair and have their way with them, sexual advances must be made. Short of some other ludicrous proposal like requiring people to maintain a public list of what sexual advances they will welcome, many sexual advances will be unwelcome as a necessary component of both training and discovery. “No making unwelcome sexual advances” is as ludicrous as “No writing buggy code”, and unwelcome sexual advances should be treated about the same way as buggy code: polite “You should change this”, not making a scene about how it’s a major moral failing and Something Must Be Done.

    Two, most of the proposals consistently reek. It’s not that they’re cures worse than the disease (the actual diseases like sexual harassment at work, not the omnipresent fake target of ‘unwanted sexual advances’); it’s that they don’t look like cures at all. They look like someone first wrote down their conclusion of “give more power of micromanagement and extrajudicial punishment over people’s lives to a star chamber of my design” and then reached out to the Rationalization Committee for an excuse.

    Here’s my constructive counter-proposal if you want one of those:

    Bring back chaperones – or modern technological equivalents such as lifeloggers. And institute a social expectation that requesting privacy outside of one’s own home (or bathroom, or other reasonable exceptions which I’m sure some nitpicker can come up with ten of) is a flirting signal.

  96. @Erik “Here’s my constructive counter-proposal”

    And here’s mine: a discreet but unmistakable visual cue that unambiguously indicates “unabailable for any sexual advance.”

    For the first few of my (nearly) 25 years of marriage I wore a plain gold wedding band on the ring finger of my left hand. I never got used to it and eventually stopped wearing it because I was less afraid of having to politely deflect a sexual advance than I was afraid of shorting out telecom-grade kiloampere DC power busses. But I still know where that wedding band is, and would wear it again at professional conferences if being hit on ever became an annoyance.

    (For the record, it will be a full 25 years on 14 June 2017.)

  97. I think it’s interesting that the one instance I’ve heard of was at a company (not FOSS) where a woman, even though she was a good programmer, was not given the interesting projects because she did not signal she belonged to the geek group. My friend, a woman, who told me the story told me she was accepted by the guys because she was a roleplayer, gamer, into sci-fi, comics, etc. The other woman was a former cheerleader and was very attractive.

    This is not in FOSS community but I think it’s interesting that there may not be gender bias but there could be bias against people who do not present themselves as standards geeks. Of course, nobody asks if you’re into sci-fi when you give them a patch or a merge request, so I doubt this actually effects the FOSS community. I just wanted to point out there are other types of bias against categories of humans other than gender, race, etc.

  98. esr:

    She’s fine, just frantically busy.

    That’s a relief. Thanks.

    We’re planning to spend four hours scoping out a new project on Friday.

    I wish you success.

  99. I think there is a difference between discrimination of FOSS contributers, which seems to me the subject of the OP, and unruly behavior at conferences. The latter has little to do with FOSS and everything with social norms among young males.

    I can see ways how eric could influence the working of online communities. But I have difficulty seeing how he could change the behavior of men at a conference he is not present nor otherwise involved in.

    Conferences are simply a different matter altogether where different problems should be handled in different ways than discrimination at FOSS fora and projects.

  100. There’s an xkcd[1] with the caption “Human subcultures are nested fractally”, and I think it’s more true than not.

    A tree representing the nesting of subcultures (nodes) within tech-culture (root) could be no more detailed than the individual (leaf). Now consider which node E is the subculture of which Eric is a tribal elder. Especially at a conference with a broad[2] appeal, you’re going to have a lot of people, especially those who aren’t descendants of E themselves, who aren’t able to discriminate between somebody who is a descendant of E (hackers? FOSS enthusiasts? is RMS a descendant thereof?) and somebody who isn’t. So I’d suspect that a non-negligible fraction of complaints of institutionalised discrimination are made in good faith, but nonetheless erroneous. The complainants simply see the elder (it need not be Eric, but he works for the example) as failing to condemn blameworthy behaviour in his own community, when he is in fact taking no action because he perceives the offender as being outside E.

    1. #1095
    2. I.e. you have to get close to the root node to find one that includes most attendees

  101. >a descendant of E (hackers? FOSS enthusiasts? is RMS a descendant thereof?)

    I would say RMS and I are elders of the same culture. In addition, he has a fractally nested subculture of his own to which my relationship is … complicated.

    Confirming your analysis, at any given tech conference I think there are likely to be some people who consider me a tribal elder, but the percentage is wildly variable.

  102. One thing I notice above is what looks like people taking past each other and not noticing they’re not talking about the same thing.

    “Unwanted sexual advances”.

    One person means “any advance that turns out to be unwanted, even if that was unpredictable”.

    The other seems to mean “advances any sensible person might have known were unwanted, or were explicitly unwanted”.

    The two are using the same term, not entirely unreasonably, for things most of us would consider, socially and probably morally very different.

    (It is harmless and normal to make a moderate sexual advance and be turned down; the polite response is to be nice about it, perhaps apologize for the wasted time or bother, and then move on and not repeat it until such time as markedly changed circumstance gives reason to believe the advance would be welcome.

    It is not polite or reasonable to make advances towards someone you know or think is not interested in them.)

  103. >One person means “any advance that turns out to be unwanted, even if that was unpredictable”.

    >The other seems to mean “advances any sensible person might have known were unwanted, or were explicitly unwanted”.

    There’s a third meaning covertly in play, as well. A lot of feminist talk about “harassment” and “creeps” seems to reduce to “Low-status males should know to fuck off and die without me having to bother telling them, even if I am ugly and have the personality of a cheese grater, because empowerment.”

  104. Hey! Why you dissin’ cheese graters? They’re good and useful to have around. Don’t you know it’s impossible to make pizza without a cheese grater being involved?

  105. > One, “unwanted sexual advances” are fundamentally not a correctable problem. I don’t mean in the sense that you cannot drive the rate all the way to zero, but in the sense that you cannot drive the rate below the billions.

    You can drive the rate to zero locally quite obviously by driving the rate of all sexual advances to zero by creating spaces in which sexual advances are categorically forbidden. I can see no argument that the ‘cost’ of such spaces (measured in, perhaps, ‘missed connections’ that aren’t merely displaced elsewhere) outweighs the benefits.

  106. @esr “because empowerment”

    From http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2129456/Do-girls-want-career-attract-man-Provocative-study-casts-high-fliers-new-light.html :

    “A controversial study has concluded that the real reason women pursue careers is because they fear they are too unattractive to get married.”

    “And the plainer a woman [thinks she] is, they claim, the more she is driven to succeed in the workplace.”

    Imagine yourself a single woman working for a living, with very low self esteem based (in no small part) on a self assessment of unattractiveness. Not a natural introvert–but excluded from the upper social tiers in middle school, high school and college–you’ve joined geeky subcultures like gaming and computing just to have some sustained contact with other humans. You’ve leveraged your exposure to computers into a technical career, but still cling to hope your (Cinderella) self-assessment will be falsified by a sexual advance from a high status man (Prince Charming) in your workplace.

    But then you get a sexual advance from a low status male. If a loser like that can scrape the courage together for the approach, he has to believe you’re in his “league”. So in addition to dashed hopes for an advance from a high status male, the low status male also confirms your long standing fear of your own unattractiveness.

    Pity the poor low status male that really does trigger such a cascade of pain and anguish!

    So O Tribal Elder: what social norms exist (or should be advocated for) to defuse these very painful and traumatizing, yet objectively/morally no-one’s-fault experiences?

  107. > It is harmless and normal to make a moderate sexual advance and be turned down

    The entire point is that for doing so in a space that’s supposed to be professional, it is not harmless, and so far as it it is normal that is a bug rather than a feature.

  108. > Confirming your analysis, at any given tech conference I think there are likely to be some people who consider me a tribal elder, but the percentage is wildly variable.

    The other half of his analysis seems to be that your ego is too fragile to withstand condemning someone only to find that they don’t care what you think of them.

  109. > Pity the poor low status male that really does trigger such a cascade of pain and anguish!

    This is discussed in detail here.

  110. > The other half of his analysis seems to be that your ego is too fragile to withstand condemning someone only to find that they don’t care what you think of them.

    Go back to the original post and read the fifth “filter” again.

  111. I’d like to know what you guys think of lipstick feminism.

    (Older versions of the article – such as this one – include this interesting sentence: “Some lipstick feminists however associate sex with power and the power of sexual attraction as power over men.”)

  112. @d5xtgr the scenario the original post is talking about (i.e. someone coming to him with unsolicited complaints about something happening elsewhere) is distinct from the scenario you set up regarding ESR’s (or some other hypothetical leader’s) willingness to comment on specific incidents happening at e.g. a conference (it seemed you were implying a conference he is also attending, and talking about his willingness to react to things that happen in front of him. I may have been mistaken.)

  113. >So O Tribal Elder: what social norms exist (or should be advocated for) to defuse these very painful and traumatizing, yet objectively/morally no-one’s-fault experiences?

    I haven’t imagined any solutions that don’t seem to impose unacceptable costs on the liberty of one sex, or the other, or both.

  114. >The other half of his analysis seems to be that your ego is too fragile to withstand condemning someone only to find that they don’t care what you think of them.

    ROFL!

    “He don’t know me vewy well, do he?”

  115. God help us if some catastrophe should cause a return to real hardship on this planet.

    All of the commenters here that are honing their skill at hand-wringing over hurt feelings are unlikely to last a week. Whining for pity sake is truly anti-evolutionary, and trading your ball sack for a safe space should be humiliating to you.

  116. >(it seemed you were implying a conference he is also attending, and talking about his willingness to react to things that happen in front of him. I may have been mistaken.)

    That’s not a scenario I think about a lot. I mean, I can imagine circumstances in which I ask a woman “Do you require assistance?” and wind up dressing down some would-be Lothario or even punching him into next week, but they frankly seem very unlikely to me for lots of reasons, one of which is that I don’t go to conferences much.

    No, the scenario I think I’m most likely to have to deal with (though it hasn’t happened yet) is dysfunctional behavior in the normal communications channels of projects (email, IRC, fora).

  117. “A controversial study has concluded that the real reason women pursue careers is because they fear they are too unattractive to get married.”

    Wahahahahaha! Why do you think men pursue high-status careers?

  118. @Jeff
    ” Why do you think men pursue high-status careers?”

    Why do you think there is such a thing as “status”, and why it is sought?

    Reading the books of Frans de Waal, especially the early ones, is enlightening.

  119. > All of the commenters here that are honing their skill at hand-wringing over hurt feelings are unlikely to last a week. Whining for pity sake is truly anti-evolutionary, and trading your ball sack for a safe space should be humiliating to you.

    On the other hand, whining in the key of pity for the attention of Power with the intent to direct its wrath on your enemies is very much pro-evolutionary, and I think this is also a justifiable reading of a lot of the professional hand-wringers. It’s akin to a false flag incident, where “shooting your own side is a terrible idea” would be naive analysis.

  120. > No, the scenario I think I’m most likely to have to deal with (though it hasn’t happened yet) is dysfunctional behavior in the normal communications channels of projects (email, IRC, fora).

    Incidentally, two of those provide a private messaging system with no mechanism for generating evidence that a message is real. Which enables both harassment and false accusations, and creates an enormous problem for your third point (unless you define people sending harassing private messages to people they found on open-source project mailing lists and IRC channels as not being part of the problem at all)

    ‘Commodity’ sites like Twitter have a different problem – while the content of private messages is knowable to Twitter itself, they are unlikely to involve the community in correcting someone’s behavior, apply community-specific standards, or do anything at all before the line has been crossed at which someone’s account will be terminated.

  121. Actually, I’ll pivot that back to your criteria. How would you deal with the potential failure state of someone hanging out in IRC or on a mailing list and sending private messages to visibly-female newcomers (either sexually harassing or discouraging them from contributing), and driving them away? They can’t show you their code, they’re newcomers. They can’t provide evidence; email* and IRC don’t generate evidence that can be distinguished from a forgery, and even “pattern of reports” fails in the presence of a narrative (true or not) of organized false flags.

    *No-one uses PGP, and even people who do can turn it off. Reporting someone’s misbehavior to their email provider runs into the same issue as described above for Twitter.

  122. I think the root cause of the issue may be that the commercialization of the internet has destroyed the system where system administrators took responsibility for policing their users’ actions. Any such role in a corporate-run system belongs to a faceless drone with little discretionary power to act as a decent human being and policies that are mainly designed to protect the company from liability first and maintain their relationships with their own customers second. The email and IRC protocols were designed for this era rather than the present one, though at least the IRC servers open-source projects use tend to be run by non-profits.

  123. >Actually, I’ll pivot that back to your criteria. How would you deal with the potential failure state of someone hanging out in IRC or on a mailing list and sending private messages to visibly-female newcomers (either sexually harassing or discouraging them from contributing), and driving them away? They can’t show you their code, they’re newcomers. They can’t provide evidence; email* and IRC don’t generate evidence that can be distinguished from a forgery, and even “pattern of reports” fails in the presence of a narrative (true or not) of organized false flags.

    Given this situation, what I would inevitably do is fail. Some problems don’t have solutions, and it does no good to pretend or expect that they do.

    Fortunately the more plausible scenarios are less dire. One reason is that in cultures where such harassment is common it is usually a social, performative act. The bully wants to be seen doing it and getting away with it; that’s the point, it’s a status assertion.

  124. @d5xtgr the scenario the original post is talking about (i.e. someone coming to him with unsolicited complaints about something happening elsewhere) is distinct from the scenario you set up regarding ESR’s (or some other hypothetical leader’s) willingness to comment on specific incidents happening at e.g. a conference (it seemed you were implying a conference he is also attending, and talking about his willingness to react to things that happen in front of him. I may have been mistaken.)

    Okay, fair enough. The conversation had moved to conference behaviour, so that’s where I set the scenario, but the storyline goes like this:
    1. Guy in a tech space (conference, project IRC, whatever) is sexist to a woman and acts in a way that, but for filter five, would earn a rebuke from hackerdom’s tribal elders.
    2. She considers him a hacker and complains publicly. She’s somewhere on the tree of tech-culture, but far enough away from the hacker culture represented by node E that she sees no distinction from the offender’s fractally nested subculture.
    3. Tribal elders take no action on the complaint because they don’t consider the offender’s subculture to be a descendant of node E; thus he fails filter five.
    4. From complainant’s perspective, a member of the hacker culture acted inappropriately, and even after the event was made public, nobody within the culture called him on it. The hacker culture is thus institutionally sexist since its tribal elders tolerate acts of overt sexism. Moreover, any attempts to disclaim the offender from hacker culture by arguing that hacker values prohibit sexism or care only about coding ability look like no-true-Scotsmanning.

    To justify point two: one of the annoying things about the nested-subcultures is that we really can only distinguish the node at which someone splits off from our subtree, and not place them on the tree in more detail than that, unless we’ve specifically studied another branch of the tree. So xkcd’s speaker doesn’t identify subcultures of the professional crazy-straw designers even though he can reliably sort them from the amateurs and distinguish between the various amateur subcultures. Similarly, American football fans can tell rugby apart from football, but wouldn’t generally know rugby league from rugby union.

  125. Random: I don’t think the idea that coworkers must never be attracted to one another or mention it “because professional” is going to work. (The preceding being of course my take on your statement above, hopefully accurately enough.)

    For one thing, it simply is not the norm anywhere I’ve ever seen, let alone generally.

    For another, the harm model for the aforementioned no-reason-to-believe-unwanted advances* is still unclear in the general.

    (The up-thread “someone might have huge issues because a low-status person approached them” is not anyone else’s problem, just their psychological issue.)

    * Where, again, “advances” means “want to go out sometime? I find you attractive.”, no more.

  126. To those above whose solution seems to always be some variation on “Verboten!!!”, please attempt to deal with reality as it exists in this universe.

    Offhand I can think of a number of venues where romantic/sexual interactions are strictly forbidden but yet they stubbornly continue to be quite common. Just to name a few…

    – Jails/prisons (female guards on male inmates, or vice-versa)
    – School teachers diddling underage students
    – Bosses diddling subordinates
    – Pastor’s wives having affairs with deacons
    – Priests diddling choir boys
    – Soldiers sneaking girls into the barracks
    – College co-eds sneaking boys into the dorm
    – Game publishers diddling game reviewers
    … and on and on…

    Fighting biology is a fool’s errand. Reality doesn’t care about your ideology. Proposing “fixing” men as the solution is objectively stupid.

  127. @Michael

    Proposing “fixing” men as the solution is objectively stupid.

    Unless you mean that in the same way we “fix” stray cats and dogs….

    /me shudders, and protectively clutches his jewels….

  128. I’m really proud that an elder can speak so openly on such topics. I get a pit-of-the-stomach feeling when faced with both the fear and ethical duties of speaking/writing on such things.

  129. > The butchers bill for using cars is staggering,

    If you’re easily staggered, perhaps. But nobody makes you use a car; you can choose to live in places where you don’t need one.

    Whether I choose to use cars (or motorcycles, or jet skis, or snowmobiles, or ultralight aircraft, or pogo sticks) is none of your business.

  130. > driving the rate of all sexual advances to zero by creating spaces in which sexual advances are categorically forbidden

    Ri-ight. Let me know how that works out for you.

  131. Linus, Wikipedia, Google. All those sites need to consider putting a BBB certification on their site.

  132. I mostly agree with you, but this part bothered me:

    “…political carpetbaggers….must be actively countered and ejected from our community.”

    That sounds like excluding people based on their political views.

  133. jonathan, you elided what he meant by that term: “people seeking social and political power that they have not earned through the merit of their work”. That’s not excluding someone based on their political views.

  134. @esr “[T]he scenario I think I’m most likely to have to deal with […] is dysfunctional behavior in the normal communications of project (email, IRC, fora).”

    That’s a very interesting scope limitation. You assume tribal eldership of people interacting primarily through electronic media, rather than in physical proximity (either short term in conferences or long term in traditional workplaces).

    Very wise. As you point out in your “show us the code” essay, anything that distracts from the primary goal of the interaction is to be ruthlessly suppressed to optimize the probability of achieving the primary goal.

  135. >That sounds like excluding people based on their political views.

    No, only on their attempts to impose said politics on community behavior. It doesn’t particularly matter what the content of the politics is.

  136. >That’s a very interesting scope limitation. You assume tribal eldership of people interacting primarily through electronic media, rather than in physical proximity

    Well, I think it’s more like “those are the people most likely to assume me as an elder”. But, basically, yes.

  137. Declaring people’s idea of what actions are right and wrong to be mere “political views” is moral relativism, which doesn’t look good on anyone. I mean, at least have the fortitude to declare their ideas to be incorrect rather than saying “that’s just a matter of politics”.

  138. >Declaring people’s idea of what actions are right and wrong to be mere “political views” is moral relativism

    I draw the distinction in a different place. If I say “It is wrong for you to do X” I am making a moral claim. If I say “It is wrong for you to do X, and government should enforce that preference”, then I am making a political one.

    It is quite consistent to both refuse to make most kinds of political claims while also not being a relativist. In fact, this is exactly the libertarian position – and, with a slightly more generous notion of permitted political claims, the classical-liberal one as well.

  139. > I draw the distinction in a different place. If I say “It is wrong for you to do X” I am making a moral claim. If I say “It is wrong for you to do X, and government should enforce that preference”, then I am making a political one.

    Okay, then who are “political carpetbaggers”? My initial reading is that this was your term for people who advocate for projects to do things like adopting “codes of conduct”, but that has nothing to do with the government and therefore isn’t on the political side of your distinction.

  140. @Random832:

    Why is it wrong to demand that the community attempt to correct people who fail to do so and ostracize people who willfully refuse to make an effort?

    So you want communities to punish people.

    Okay, then who are “political carpetbaggers”? My initial reading is that this was your term for people who advocate for projects to do things like adopting “codes of conduct”, but that has nothing to do with the government and therefore isn’t on the political side of your distinction.

    And so you don’t understand the basic definitions associated with, or ramifications of, your wishes. You should start here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics

  141. > [Erik] Where did esr go for the ad hominem? … It means a specific kind of wrongful inference of the form “Bob is wrong because he is ugly” or “Alice’s logic is incorrect because she is a fascist”. These are fallacies because they attack the arguer as a substitute for attacking the argument, which is bad reasoning.

    My original comment included a link:

    http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=5069#comment-413098

    For convenience, and just in case you are technically unable to follow this link, I will quote the comment here in full:

    >> [Terry, quoted] (Jack Chick and his colleagues over at chick.com, where you can read every Chick tract ever produced for free in xkcd-like form, are among the straightest theological shooters I’ve ever seen.)

    > [Eric] Yeah, that confirms it; you’re a complete drooling nutter. No mere fact will ever be permitted to interfere with your delusions. It is pointless to argue anything with you and I will now stop.

    In the above, ESR called me insane without giving any explanation as to why commending Jack Chick’s theological accuracy constitutes insanity or evidence thereof. It fits your description of the ad hominem attack in every detail.

    > [Eric] You have a short memory, and I don’t think it’s worth my time to argue with you.

    I may have missed the argument that I’ve been asking for now and back then, and awaiting for three years, but I’m pretty certain I would not have forgotten it. As for whether it’s worth your time, I expect it would be for two reasons, one having to do with me, and one having to do with everyone else.

    1. In your view, it should not be the case that I’m so lost that I can’t be led to salvation, or whatever your equivalent is. I have presented a lot of evidence that I know debate logic and argumentation. (And I’ve also learned much in the last three years, especially from Sye Ten Bruggencate getting himself shredded in several debates by doing it badly.) If you have no equivalent to 1 Peter 3:15, perhaps it isn’t worth your time: if there is really no reason that I should be sane in your view- I just realized if it isn’t worth your time to tell me *why* I’m insane, it probably isn’t worth your time to tell me *that* I’m insane, as the insanity you’re referring to is that irrelevant.

    2. It looks like I’ve won the debate. I’m still saying things and you appear unable to respond to my arguments. I’m not mistaking unwillingness for inability in this case, but there might be someone reading this who may. If you do not respond because you are unwilling, that someone may conclude that you are unable to respond, and in their eyes, I would be the more persuasive by far. If they do not, I still appear to be more persuasive, just not as much. If you wish to contain my insanity, it would be wise for you to respond with an intelligent answer. It would also benefit your reputation as “tribal elder” as a demonstration that you can deal effectively with interference from nutters like me, lest their insanity pollute the open source community, if that’s a bad thing. (e.g. You would probably consider John Maxwell to be just as insane as I am, but if he were to show up and start commenting on this blog, you would likely have to deal with him in a much more constructive manner than you have me, especially since this insanity results in his leadership skill and he’s not afraid to talk about it with world leading corporate directors, officers, and politicians.)

    > [Eric] I draw the distinction in a different place. If I say “It is wrong for you to do X” I am making a moral claim. If I say “It is wrong for you to do X, and government should enforce that preference”, then I am making a political one.

    We agree on something!

    > [Michael] Game publishers diddling game reviewers

    Stop being Sarkeestic!

  142. >In the above, ESR called me insane without giving any explanation as to why commending Jack Chick’s theological accuracy constitutes insanity

    All faith-holders are, definitionally, insane, because faith is definitionally a determination to believe despite evidence. I didn’t need to know you were a Jack Chick fan to get that far, the latter datum only told me that your faith fixation is strong enough that you invest in a particularly crude and ugly version of Christianity.

  143. >Uh … dude … that’s not the definition of ‘faith’.

    b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof

    Sane people do not organize their lives, their value systems, and their identities around premises for which there is no proof. Sane people do not continue by defending those premises against contrary evidence.

  144. @esr “Sane people do not organize their lives, their value systems, and their identities around premises for which there is no proof.”

    I doubt your definition of insanity is clinically correct either. Scott Adams could prolly help you there.

    Anyway you said “believe despite evidence”, that notably different that the M-W definition of “firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust”

    There’s also this:
    http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=184

  145. >Anyway you said “believe despite evidence”, that notably different that the M-W definition of “firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust”

    I consider the difference a quibble. People who routinely believe without evidence easily slide over into believing despite evidence because they don’t know how to – or, in the case of faith-holders, actively refuse – to practice epistemic hygiene,

    >There’s also this:

    I am not going to utter a long rant about inductive confirmation here and now. Suffice it to say that if you think you have caught ne in a contradiction you are severely mistaken.

  146. @esr “I consider the difference a quibble. People who routinely believe without evidence easily slide over into believing despite evidence because they don’t know how to – or, in the case of faith-holders, actively refuse – to practice epistemic hygiene,”

    Eric, I know lots of people of strong faith. They function in modern, civilized society quite well. They are doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers, developers, business owners, I/T professionals, etc. If such people are your definition of insane then your definition is not very useful.

  147. The entire Western scientific enterprise is based on the assumption that the laws of physics work consistently across space and time. That is, by definition, unprovable.

    So how did that idea come about? It sure helps if a group of people people convince themselves that (A) there is only one god, (B) that god created everything, (C) that god’s character is consistent across time and space, and that (D) it is possible to learn more about that god by observing the universe around you.

    And of course people who believe that tend to be very good at making weapons and killing everyone who disagrees with them. Nice bonus.

  148. > [Eric] Sane people do not organize their lives, their value systems, and their identities around premises for which there is no proof.

    I presented a great deal of evidence under that post for evidence supporting my belief in God and the accuracy of the Bible. You didn’t address any of it. I therefore must consider your belief that I am insane to be completely irrational, and because you continue in your beliefs in the face of this evidence which remains unaddressed, I can consider you insane by the definitions just given. If you were to address the evidence for God and the Bible at least to the extent that I and others may understand why you are not convinced by it, that would be helpful.

    > [Parallel] The entire Western scientific enterprise is based on the assumption that the laws of physics work consistently across space and time.

    Always, I am reminded how Neil DeGrasse Tyson described his “favorite person” on Big Think (on Youtube). That person being Sir Isaac Newton. He lists off all the salient accomplishments for which he is remembered (i.e. gravity, kinematics, calculus, optics, etc. if I missed anything) “…and then he turned 26.” The part that DeGrasse Tyson leaves out is that he spent the rest of his life studying and writing on theology, believing that people would remember him longer for that topic than science.

  149. > If such people are your definition of insane then your definition is not very useful.

    It predicts one thing that actually does happen: occasional episodes of delusional mania when their compartmentalization breaks down.

  150. >If you were to address the evidence for God and the Bible at least to the extent that I and others may understand why you are not convinced by it, that would be helpful.

    You have a short memory.

  151. @esr “occasional episodes of delusional mania”

    I’ve not seen that, certainly not to an extent to call it a trend. Neither does it square with calling people insane whether or not they exhibit that tendency. Attempting to attach (erroneous) clinical terms to things that appear to be more like pet peeves really isn’t very helpful.

  152. I am an atheist. Not only do I not believe the evidence for a God – any God – is at best wofully insufficient, I agree with Professor Steven Hawking’s argument in A Brief History of Time that the universe did not need a Creator – and, therefore, by Occam’s Razor, there is none.

    With that said, I am not hostile to religion. It is entirely possible that I am incorrect. Those who arrive at the opposite conclusion are not a priori insane. (Eric, before you dissent from that, I invite you to consider the sanity of a mutual friend who is a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I consider him one of the sanest people I know.)

    Still, all of the “proofs” advanced for the absolute truth of the Bible I’ve ever seen have been hopelessly self-referential. Independent, objectively verifiable facts that cannot be explained in any other manner are notable by their utter absence. And that doesn’t even begin to deal with the fact that the Bible has been through countless, by definition fallible, human hands, many of them with overt political axes to grind.

    Sorry. Believe all you want to, and I will not think any less of you for it. You can even pray for my soul if you feel the need. (Said member of the LDS Church gave me a copy of The Book of Mormon. It occupies an honored place on my bookshelf, because it represents an act of great friendship and deep caring.) But don’t expect me to join you in your beliefs in the absence of evidence I can see for myself and independently verify as being exactly what is claimed and proof of exactly what it is said to prove.

  153. Religion (in all its various permutations) and the memetic trait of “faith” exist because they “worked” in the sense that these practices helped our ancient ancestors survive and thrive in an era where there were many unknowns and hard-earned wisdom was both scarce and ephemeral. Disparate and isolated tribes in nearly every corner of the planet evolved methodologies for passing wisdom from generation-to-generation and the common ground shared by nearly all of them is the formalization of repetitive messaging (religion) and a proclivity for belief in the absence of direct knowledge (faith).

    A hypothetical example. Turn back the clock 25,000 years. A tribe wonders into a new valley in search of food (fleeing famine). A member of the tribe eats a new berry plant, gets sick and dies. Every first-person observer in the tribe now knows to avoid that plant, but they also need to convey this wisdom to succeeding generations and induce them to believe despite never having seen the evidence directly. Flash forward 20,000 years to the dawn of civilization and Darwin presents us with the surviving cultures and innate behavioral biases.

  154. @Jay Maynard on 2017-01-08 at 21:24:42 said:

    > Still, all of the “proofs” advanced for the absolute truth of the Bible I’ve ever seen have been hopelessly self-referential.

    As an amateur internet theologian, I can tell you that anyone offering such a thing is categorically nuts. The bible will never be proven the way that, say, relativity or quantum electrodynamics is proven.

    As a side note, I’ll add that no branch of Christianity with a history of serious intellectual theology considers the bible to be literal either. About the closest you’ll find is the LCMS, which says that the bible contains no errors that will lead a student theologically astray, without offering any opinion on the literal interpretation. Also, I’ve seen some good reasons to believe that the 900+ year ages early on were the result of misunderstanding a numbering system. But the result of that isn’t a theological error, just a chronological one.

    > Independent, objectively verifiable facts that cannot be explained in any other manner are notable by their utter absence.

    Historians are grudgingly coming around to accept that 1) the disciples were historical figures, 2) they really thought that they had witnessed the resurrection and other miracles, and 3) they intentionally provided enough details that their contemporaries could seek out other eyewitnesses to refute their stories. That’s nowhere near the level you are asking for, but it turns out to be better than the evidence supporting the existence of many other ancient historical figures and events.

    > And that doesn’t even begin to deal with the fact that the Bible has been through countless, by definition fallible, human hands, many of them with overt political axes to grind.

    And yet, the scrolls and fragments we’ve been digging up indicate that none of these people, fallible though they surely were, actually made any significant changes to the texts. The secular historians have NOT been happy about this because the myth of the politicized bible has been their go-to for centuries. If they knew that they were going to be digging up proof that the bulk of the bible survived essentially unchanged from about 70 or 100 AD until today, they’d have dug somewhere else.

    Archaeology has brought us to the point where expert Jesus-debunkers (meaning those that are familiar with the evidence as of 10-12 years ago) now accept the historicity of the new testament almost entirely. No serious scholars argue that Jesus wasn’t a historical figure, nor that his disciples didn’t exist, nor that they were delusional or confused. About the only avenues left to them at this point are “yeah, but you can’t prove that he was divine” and “Well, they must’ve been tricked then.”

  155. > In the above, ESR called me insane without giving any explanation as to why commending Jack Chick’s theological accuracy constitutes insanity or evidence thereof. It fits your description of the ad hominem attack in every detail.

    No it doesn’t. There is no such thing as an “ad hominem attack”. There is an ad hominem fallacy, which would go “Your argument is incorrect because you are insane”, or otherwise putting an attack into a chain of reasoning at the point where an argument should be. ESR is not doing that; he’s attacking you and saying he won’t reason with you. He then cannot possibly be committing an ad hominem fallacy which is an error in reasoning.

    I think the word you’re looking for is “flaming”. ESR has flamed you. ESR has maligned, insulted, abused, affronted, ridiculed, vilified, mocked, derogated and slighted you. There’s a wide vocabulary available to describe what he did without stealing terms that are already in use for something else.

    Or to put this in the manner of Carroll’s Bellman:
    The attack is not the fallacy.
    The attack is not the fallacy.
    The attack is not the fallacy.

    What I tell you three times is true.

    Perhaps I’m fighting a dysphemism treadmill, but I really want to see two things kept separate:
    -the seemingly emerging “internet ad hominem”, which identifies the point where a person is offended because they’ve been attacked or insulted
    -and the classical “logician’s ad hominem”, which identifies the point where a series of inferences breaks down because one of the steps is not valid in the specific manner of reasoning *from* attack or insult *to* proposition about truth or the like.

    ESR’s “you’re a complete drooling nutter. No mere fact will ever be permitted to interfere with your delusions. It is pointless to argue anything with you” is offensive and insulting. This makes it an internet ad hominem, or, a flame. It is not a logician’s ad hominem.

  156. Erik, what you’ve demonstrated is that the comment was in fact an “ad hominem attack”, though not a fallacious “ad hominem argument”.

  157. In my lifetime I have been exposed to ten workplaces for more than a month, ranging from my first job at a convenience store to an office environment staffed mostly by 40-60 year olds making six figure salaries (and some college age interns). Their record is a perfect 10-for-10: at every one of them I was aware of at least one (usually more) sexually active couple.

    One poorly understood thing is that women very often DO make the first move–just, usually, not the way men do (overtly and verbally). Women usually send nonverbal signals of receptiveness to a sexual overture to men they’re interested in. They’re pretty obvious once you know what to look for.

    Unfortunately, the men most susceptible to finding themselves on the business and of a life-wrecking harassment claim are those who lack the social skills to recognize nonverbal signals of interest (or uninterest). In my experience men adept at reading nonverbal cues are rarely rejected, because they usually approach already knowing she is receptive to him.

    Trying to ban sexuality from the workplace is absurd, and Eric is right: what most everyone who seriously advocates such a thing really wants is for the low social status males to go away and stay away.

    There’s never been a better time to be a socially adept male than right now. There’s never been a worse time to be a socially awkward male.

  158. >what most everyone who seriously advocates such a thing really wants is for the low social status males to go away and stay away.

    One of the ironies of the situation is that when these advocates get what they want, the result is an imbalance that constrains women’s choices. Banishing low-status males leads to increased female competition for the smaller number of males available – which puts power to set the terms of sexual relationships in the hands of the men.

    An extreme form of this is observable in black communities where exogamy is taboo and the sex ratio has been skewed by the high incarceration rate of young black males. The men who stay out of jail get to write their own ticket, sexually speaking – their girlfriends must put up with them having multiple girlfriends and being unwilling to commit to marriage, because what other choice is there?

    I have previously noted that a similar dynamic underlies the “hookup culture” on college campuses.

  159. Mash Wilson:

    There’s never been a worse time to be a socially awkward male.

    Bad news for me. What should I do?

  160. @Jorge Dujan “Bad news for me. What should I do?”

    Learn Game. It even helps old married guys like me.

  161. >What about this Tor developer that says her patches to GnuPG get accepted when she pretends to be a male contributor?

    That sounds like it might be a legitimate claim and within my remit.

    I found this comment interesting:

    “so far my data shows deviance is high, so it’s mostly that there’s the really awful projects and the ones with decent human beings”

    This suggests that she thinks the problem is not cultural but individual to “really awful projects”. Which makes sense; if it were prevalent I think I would have known long since.

  162. > This suggests that she thinks the problem is not cultural but individual to “really awful projects”. Which makes sense; if it were prevalent I think I would have known long since.

    Could the existence of “really awful projects” itself be a cultural problem? I see two related potential causes:

    Projects are not willing to ‘kick out’ a single or small group of prominent ‘high-quality’ contributors, so long as they do good work, even if they drive other people away.

    People are not willing to fork a project which is run by such a person or group unless the behavior impacts them personally (and so the critical mass for such a fork to be successful never materializes).

  163. > This suggests that she thinks the problem is not cultural but individual to “really awful projects”. Which makes sense; if it were prevalent I think I would have known long since.

    Also… would you? It sounds like the failure mode here is that there’s an entirely typical “single ‘dictatorial’ project leader who decides what code goes in or not” project structure, differentiated only by the (extremely difficult to measure) fact that the criteria for rejection happened to include a bias against women. And it might not have even been conscious on his part – this isn’t a defense, though, the end result isn’t really better either way.

    I think it is cultural that “BDFL doesn’t like it” with no further elaboration is accepted as a valid cause for patch rejection, and that is, if nothing else, the ‘cover’ that allows for problems like this to occur.

  164. She says that she’s been submitting patches in duplicate for a decade. That should leave a paper trail a mile wide.

  165. >Could the existence of “really awful projects” itself be a cultural problem?

    Yes, in the limited sense that we don’t know any better models for small-project governance than having a BDFL. But that isn’t a prejudice and exclusion problem, it’s an everything problem.

  166. >I think it is cultural that “BDFL doesn’t like it” with no further elaboration is accepted as a valid cause for patch rejection, and that is, if nothing else, the ‘cover’ that allows for problems like this to occur.

    I agree. But, again, this is not a cultural prejudice problem. And addressing prejudice by trying to “fix” our governance structures so there are fewer BDFLs could do terrible damage. The BDFL happens for a reason – the experience and taste of a highly motivated individual reliably bets hell out of design by committee.

  167. >She says that she’s been submitting patches in duplicate for a decade. That should leave a paper trail a mile wide.

    Right. If she wants to talk to me and present the evidence, I would be willing to make public stink about this that nobody could ignore.

  168. Jorge Dujan on 2017-01-10 at 09:46:11 said:
    > Mash Wilson:
    > > here’s never been a worse time to be a socially awkward male.
    > Bad news for me. What should I do?

    (1) Do not try to acquire a mate at places where rejection will compromise your career.
    (2) Develop the sorts of hobbies and non-work activities that bring you in contact with eligible women outside of work.
    (3) Learn to be less awkward, which can happen in #2.

  169. (1) Do not try to acquire a mate at places where rejection will compromise your career.
    (2) Develop the sorts of hobbies and non-work activities that bring you in contact with eligible women outside of work.
    (3) Learn to be less awkward, which can happen in #2.

    In addition to the above, dedicate to reading some red-pill / manliness web sites. Here’s a couple:
    http://www.returnofkings.com/
    http://alphagameplan.blogspot.com/
    https://dalrock.wordpress.com/
    http://www.artofmanliness.com/

  170. I think it is cultural that “BDFL doesn’t like it” with no further elaboration is accepted as a valid cause for patch rejection, and that is, if nothing else, the ‘cover’ that allows for problems like this to occur.

    My first thought it that this is a very poor approach to have. Perhaps OSS needs a “HOWTO on being a small-project manager”. Absent patch proposals which are pseudo-line noise worthless, discarding without an explanation causes the following problems:

    * There is no corrective action for the submitter to work on. That is, there’s no way for a submitter to know if they’ve missed a presubmit step, missed a coding style issue, or are working on something that is about to be ripped out and replaced.

    * It’s disrespectful. Unless you make it clear that you don’t/won’t accept patches at all, it’s assumed that you will. Somebody went through the time to make something. Dismissing that effort without explanation devalues the effort.

    * It fails to provide the mentorship and growth as a developer that OSS is talked about. If we want to grow more quality developers they are going to need useful feedback that they can learn from and improve.

    * Systematically, it can result in a reduction of the number of people who are willing to attempt to submit patches.

  171. > She says that she’s been submitting patches in duplicate for a decade. That should leave a paper trail a mile wide.

    As far as I could tell she doesn’t actually say that – simply that she’s been submitting some patches as male identities and some other patches as female identities.

    One problem is that there’s no “right” way to do this. Resubmitting a rejected patch under a male identity would make it easy to catch her in the act. Not doing so, and continuing to use female identities at all after having formed her hypothesis, leaves her open to accusations of not caring about the quality of the project.

    Submitting patches in duplicate is again easily caught. Not doing so leaves her open to the accusation (which someone actually made in a Twitter response) that she may have influenced the results by maliciously reserving the patches she knew were better to be submitted with male identities.

    Any way she could have run this experiment is open to being dismissed “well why didn’t you do it another way”. In particular, without duplicate patches you’ve got to evaluate for yourself whether the patches were of equal quality, while already having the knowledge of which patches were rejected and which were accepted.

    (To be clear, I’m not saying she did anything wrong, I’m saying that sexist or willfully-blind people are very good at coming up with plausible-sounding rationalizations)

    > (1) Do not try to acquire a mate at places where rejection will compromise your career.

    Or where they may fear that rejection will compromise their career. The whole reason it’s called out as a problem in the first place is the complex power dynamics. (If you’re a selfish enough person to need a reason why doing so affects you, consider that if someone thinks their career may be at risk they’re likely to lash out against you in pre-emptive self-defense rather than just saying no.)

  172. Random832: “I’m saying that sexist or willfully-blind people are very good at coming up with plausible-sounding rationalizations”

    s/sexist or willfully-blind//

    “> (1) Do not try to acquire a mate at places where rejection will compromise your career.

    Or where they may fear that rejection will compromise their career. ”

    But it was perfectly all right for Bill Clinton to bang Monica Lewinski.

  173. Jay:
    > Billy O:
    > > “> (1) Do not try to acquire a mate at places where rejection will compromise your career.
    > Or where they may fear that rejection will compromise their career. ”
    > But it was perfectly all right for Bill Clinton to bang Monica Lewinski.

    If you can convince 60 million (give or take) people to vote for you *after* being outed as a rapist/sexual predator (and can convince the media to spike stories about this), then you’re not really at a place where rejection will compromise your career.

    Also there’s no evidence that he “banged” her, other than with a cigar. He just came on her tits. High class, it’s the Clinton way.

  174. @Random832 on 2017-01-12 at 10:43:58 said:

    > > She says that she’s been submitting patches in duplicate for a decade. That should leave a paper trail a mile wide.

    >As far as I could tell she doesn’t actually say that – simply that she’s been submitting some patches as male identities and some other patches as female identities.

    No, she says that she’s been submitting at least some of them in duplicate.

    @isislovecruft @Dymaxion And they didn’t even notice getting the same patch twice from different names?

    @Doomed_Daniel @Dymaxion apparently not, and this still baffles me

  175. > s/sexist or willfully-blind//

    Sure, the adjectives just affect what specific predetermined conclusions they look for rationalizations for. Doing it at all is something humans of all stripes are good at.

  176. @Greg –

    > Wondering if this has popped up on anyone’s radar yet.

    Yes, OGH had posted it to his G+ feed with the comment “Because battling back against speech-policing, thought-policing totalitarian thugs is a moral imperative.?”

  177. Sorry for not getting back sooner…

    >> (Michael) If such people are your definition of insane then your definition is not very useful.

    > (Eric) It predicts one thing that actually does happen: occasional episodes of delusional mania when their compartmentalization breaks down.

    While that does actually happen, my experience has been that it happens more often and more severely with people of “no” faith than people of Christian faith. Probably consistent with human dimorphism effects we agree on, it happens more often in women than men regardless of faith. In my experience. When one truly understands the evidence, atheism requires more faith than Christianity. I have also noticed a very strong correlation between people who understand the evidence for Christianity (which is a very small subset of self-identified Christians; I think less than 25% of the adherents at the church I attend are in it) and people who accept the nonsense of anthropogenic global warming. Eric, you are an exception. Again, this is just my experience with the people I chat with and I have no surveys to quote at this time.

    > (Eric) You have a short memory.

    You seem to have an inability to refresh it, if that is indeed true. (Context reminder: I’m asking Eric to address the evidence I presented under “Sometimes I hear voices…” which supports the existence of God and the truth of the Bible, or by this point, show where he has already done so.)

    > (Jay Maynard) I agree with Professor Steven Hawking’s argument in A Brief History of Time that the universe did not need a Creator – and, therefore, by Occam’s Razor, there is none.

    I would like to discuss the evidence against this argument, if you’ll hear me out. First, the modern theory of biological evolution (still usually credited incorrectly to Charles Darwin) holds that random mutations generate information and natural selection sorts out the more useful from the less useful based on survival advantages. The actual evidence from population genetics and molecular biology shows that mutations always result in a net loss of genetic information, and that biology has very sophisticated and reliable (though not perfect) mechanisms for correcting these errors and restoring backup copies. Not one example of novel genetic information from mutations can be given. Natural selection does not filter “useful” noise into information either, as it can only act upon the outward physical expression of the organism, at the very closest to the level of DNA’s molecular code, compatibility with chemical environments (e.g. antibiotic resistance), which is still some distance from the DNA code. The outward physical expression of an organism depends too much on epigenetics and nutrition for natural selection to have much effect on the genetic code itself. It also selects alleles out of the population, and if that population loses the alleles, they are extinct and you never get them back. For example, all breeds of dog come from grey wolves, however you won’t be able to breed grey wolves from a bunch of purebred toy poodles. Based on fossil studies of platypus, they used to have teeth, but the gene that makes them has been lost, at least in observed living populations. A famous example in humans is the gene for ascorbate (better known as Vitamin C); we’ve found one, but it isn’t working in any humans living today and there is currently no way to fix it. Also, people with blood type O have a broken gene for the A antigen and would be type A if it still worked.

    Playing back this status quo for millions of years is not possible, since accumulating genetic errors will lead to information catastrophe in just a few thousand years going forward. If there were millions of years behind us, this very real problem (whether you’re Christian or otherwise) would have wiped us out by now. Genetic error catastrophe’s timeline can’t be predicted because error rates per generation very widely by time and place, being most prominent in areas exposed to high levels of fission product radiation in explosive test areas, a certain pair of Japanese cities until recently, and the area around Chernobyl, which has had just over one generation of humans to study and many more of plants and animals. (Plants are much more robust genetically, for example, with polyploidy in plants, you usually get a seedless variety, while in humans, you get Down Syndrome at best.)

  178. > (Erik) There is no such thing as an “ad hominem attack”. There is an ad hominem fallacy … I think the word you’re looking for is “flaming”. ESR has flamed you.

    You’re correct, however “flame” is generally not a word I hear at the debate table. The ad hominem “attack” and ad hominem “argument” are equally fallacious and unhelpful in these discussions, and the party using either is signalling that he is out of useful ammunition (i.e. the debate table is not a game of Factorio where the flamethrower is so much more useful than a machine gun.) I find the distinction you make is not all that important.

  179. > (Terry) I have also noticed a very strong correlation between people who understand the evidence for Christianity … and people who accept the nonsense of anthropogenic global warming.

    I somehow missed putting the word “inverse” – strong inverse correlation, i.e. informed Christians tend *not* to accept AGW while atheists do. Sorry if I confused anyone.

  180. @Terry
    “I somehow missed putting the word “inverse” – strong inverse correlation, i.e. informed Christians tend *not* to accept AGW while atheists do. ”

    That should not surprise anyone. People of faith tend to not believe scientific evidence. Atheists tend to trust scientific evidence more than those relying on faith.

    As AGW is a purely scientific concept based on physics and observational evidence, it stands to reason that those relying on science accept the evidence, while those relying on faith and ideology do not bother with the evidence.

  181. > The actual evidence from population genetics and molecular biology shows that mutations always result in a net loss of genetic information

    This is a lie. This is not only an accidental lie of the sort that might be measured true or false; it is necessarily a lie because it cannot possibly be true. This is why people flame you instead of engaging with you: because by telling this kind of lie you show that you are either personally mendacious or else you are a ‘useful idiot’ repeating mendacious people without thinking about what they say.

    Formal rebuttal: Consider two genetic states, X and Y, which are one mutation apart. Trivially, X contains the same amount of genetic information as X, and Y contains the same amount of genetic as information as Y. If the mutation from X to Y involves a net loss of genetic information, then state Y contains less genetic information than X. This implies that state X contains more genetic information than Y, which in turn implies that a mutation from Y to X involves a net gain in genetic information. Therefore, it is not true that all mutations always result in a net loss of genetic information.

    Or in informal analogical language, it’s as though you had said “changing one letter in a string always makes the string have less meaning”.

    Here’s another rebuttal, by reductio ad absurdum:

    You assert that mutations always result in a net loss of genetic information. Either losses in genetic information have some minimum quantity, or they do not. (AKA: is genetic information discrete or continuous?)

    If they do, then I can cause a genome (or whatever unit you apply mutations on) to contain an arbitrarily large negative quantity of genetic information by mutating it sufficiently many times. This is absurd.

    If they do not, then for whatever quantity of change in genetic information is the smallest perceptible by any means, then there exist arbitrarily large amounts of mutations which when taken together cause less than this amount of change. AKA, “it could mutate infinitely many times and look exactly the same.” This is also absurd.

  182. @Terry
    “Not one example of novel genetic information from mutations can be given. Natural selection does not filter “useful” noise into information either, as it can only act upon the outward physical expression of the organism, at the very closest to the level of DNA’s molecular code, compatibility with chemical environments (e.g. antibiotic resistance), which is still some distance from the DNA code. ”

    Examples abound. It just seems to me that you really do not understand biology.

    The mutations that underlie the AB0 blood types contain information about the prevalence of certain infectious diseases that deferentially affect carriers of blood types. The same with the mutation that causes sickle cell anemia. That contains information about the prevalence of malaria. There are endless numbers of cases about bacteria and pests gaining mutations that gave them the ability to pump out antibiotics or pesticides after being subjected to these agents.

    You simply do not understand what selective pressure means. If you want to have a “human build” system that gains information using mutation-selection you can simply look up genetic programming:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_programming

    or the better biological analogues, look up directed evolution of ribozymes
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1496376

    Or directed evolution itself. You will see gain of information in the population:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Directed_evolution

  183. @Winter

    Winter, you’re always good for a laugh.

    “People of faith tend to not believe scientific evidence.”

    No, people of faith tend to be educated about human nature and therefore tend to not believe liars. And political hacks. And their useful idiots in the media.

    “Atheists tend to trust scientific evidence more than those relying on faith.”

    Terry is mistaken here as are you. I’ve encountered too many astute atheists who reject AGW to call this a trend. (And Christians who stupidly believe it.)

    “As AGW is a purely scientific concept based on physics and observational evidence,”

    No, AGW is purely a political movement, always has been.

    Have you ever pondered why every cause taken up by the left always has exactly the same remedy: removal of liberty, transfer of power to the elites, collectivist confiscation, ideology-based redistribution.

    It doesn’t pass the smell test and there is plenty of evidence against it.

    “while those relying on faith and ideology do not bother with the evidence.”

    Winter, what you miss is that the most compelling, plentiful, and reliable evidence is for the corruption and mal intent of those hyping AGW. There is your evidence – go where it leads.

  184. @Michael
    “Winter, what you miss is that the most compelling, plentiful, and reliable evidence is for the corruption and mal intent of those hyping AGW.”

    I was mostly referring to Creationism, but AGW would do too. To quote or most respected PotUS to be:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/23/us/politics/trump-new-york-times-interview-transcript.html

    JAMES BENNET, editorial page editor: When you say an open mind, you mean you’re just not sure whether human activity causes climate change? Do you think human activity is or isn’t connected?

    TRUMP: I think right now … well, I think there is some connectivity. There is some, something. It depends on how much. It also depends on how much it’s going to cost our companies. You have to understand, our companies are noncompetitive right now.

    In short, whether or not AGW is true depends on what it costs. Which is exactly what fuels the opposition here. Truth for sale, that is the whole Climate Sceptics, not science. And that is the same approach to truth as seen in Creationism or Germ Sceptics (remember them?) in the religious fanatics sections.

    And do not come to me complaining about science in AGW. Look here:
    http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6607#comment-1372193

    At this link I am trying to get through the concept of conservation of mass in chemical reactions, and fail. Because, the combined intellect of this blog is unable to understand the relation between plant respiration and carbon dioxide cycles. This is early high-school stuff. The post I link to is a howler that would get an 8 grader an F minus in science.

  185. @ Terry – mutation is simply change from the norm in a replicating entity. If the change harms the replication entity’s survival success, it tends to die out. If the change enhances the replication entity’s survival success, it tends to persist.

    Faith is an innate behavioral bias that is a product of our evolutionary history (similar to fight or flight proclivity). We are descended from the survivors of an evolutionary gauntlet in which the acquisition of wisdom at an early age conveyed survival advantage.

    For most of our history, evolution has wrought robustness in our species. Modeling now suggests that we are transitioning away from this historical imperative. AGW is not the boogeyman, memetic anti-evolution is. We are making the OS too complex and buggy.

  186. > (Erik until further notice) Formal rebuttal: Consider two genetic states, X and Y, which are one mutation apart.

    67 letters, 26 letters to choose from. Using random.org to select two numbers to select which letter to mutate and which letter to mutate it to, I’ll naturally select any sentence that Firefox doesn’t have any underlines on…

    Sormal rebuttal: Consider two genetic states, X and Y, which are one mutation apart.

    Sormal rebuttal: Consider two genetic states, X and Y, which ere one mutation apart.

    (Note: “ere” is an old English word for “before”)

    Sormal rebuttal: Consider two genetic states, X and Y, which ere one mutation apaht.

    Sormal rebuktal: Consider two genetic states, X and Y, which ere one mutation apaht.

    Sormal rebuktal: Consider two genetic states, X and Y, which ere one mutamion apaht.

    Sormal rebuktal: Consider two genetic states, G and Y, which ere one mutamion apaht.

    Sormal rebuktal: Consider two venetic states, G and Y, which ere one mutamion apaht.

    (Italian politics are strange, lol!)

    Sormal rebuctal: Consider two venetic states, G and Y, which ere one mutamion apaht.

    Sormal rebuctal: Consider two venetic states, G and Y, which eru one mutamion apaht.

    Sormal rebuctal: Consider two venetic states, G amd Y, which eru one mutamion apaht.

    (Poor Intel.)

    Slrmal rebuctal: Consider two venetic states, G amd Y, which eru one mutamion apaht.

    I think it’s had enough mutation to make my point.

    > Therefore, it is not true that all mutations always result in a net loss of genetic information.

    But you’re not discussing evidence, you argue with pure speculation. Let’s consider two genetic states one mutation apart, X and Y …in a three billion base genome like the human one. You have a mutation that turns X to Y, breaking a gene of gbout two thousand bases, by, for example, changing an adenine to a guanine. The odds of the next mutation fixing Y back to X are one in twelve billion. Tell me, sir, how likely is chat? (I switched two letters from DNA’s alphabet as we interpret it in this paragraph.)

    That’s the sort of circumstance that explains why we don’t observe mutations that produce novel information.

    Also, to create a gene like polymerase, 2786 new bases have to be exactly right before natural selection has anything to work with, 4^2786 ways to arrange that many bases, maybe a few dozen of which will actually produce polymerase, maybe only one or two of which will actually produce *enough* polymerase (synonymic codons have different availability of tRNA in most situations.)

    > You assert that mutations always result in a net loss of genetic information.

    Actually no: I assert that the _evidence_ shows that mutation always result in a net loss of genetic information. I’m reasonably certain that the exceptions are not detectable, and even if they were, they are not remarkable. The evidence is what it is because the noise overwhelms anything useful.

    > If they do, then I can cause a genome (or whatever unit you apply mutations on) to contain an arbitrarily large negative quantity of genetic information by mutating it sufficiently many times. This is absurd.

    This is also invalid: as mutations accumulate, they start hitting already damaged information. An example in my own “Slrmal rebuctal”, the same letter (the first t in “rebuttal” originally), was hit twice. The second time did no further damage. It would also be undetectable in the evidence.

    > (Winter) The mutations that underlie the AB0 blood types contain information about the prevalence of certain infectious diseases that deferentially affect carriers of blood types. The same with the mutation that causes sickle cell anemia. That contains information about the prevalence of malaria.

    I’m sorry, what?? The mutation that causes sickle cell anemia contains information about malaria? We as intelligent humans investigating things can deduce the prevalence of malaria from population studies of this mutation in the lulls between outbreaks, but the mutation itself contains no information about malaria.

    > (Michael until further notice) Terry is mistaken here as are you. I’ve encountered too many astute atheists who reject AGW to call this a trend. (And Christians who stupidly believe it.)

    No, I’m not. My statements regarding this “trend” are highly qualified, especially since I haven’t discussed both the topics of AGW and faith with many atheists. I also didn’t say Eric was the *only* atheist I know of who rejects AGW (he isn’t, but I can count all of them on one hand.)

    > Have you ever pondered why every cause taken up by the left always has exactly the same remedy: removal of liberty, transfer of power to the elites, collectivist confiscation, ideology-based redistribution.

    This is the same sort of overgeneralization Erik has been railing against, and I’m pretty sure I’d have better success rebutting it if I considered it worthwhile to try. But since the bulk of leftishness is as you describe, I don’t see any point, nor have faith in any trend that the exceptions could be “naturally selected” to produce liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness.

    > (Winter) To quote or most respected PotUS to be…

    That Trump is such is news to me, lol! Seems to be quite the opposite from what I’ve heard. Then you quote the sort of brain fart that generally gets the most coverage on shows like Last Week Tonight and This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Personally, I think he’s just stalling for time.

    > (TomA until the end) mutation is simply change from the norm in a replicating entity.

    Start with an incorrect definition. Okay, I think I know which side you’re on, lol!

    > Faith is an innate behavioral bias that is a product of our evolutionary history

    That is a statement of faith, as well as an incorrect definition. One could argue that the Christian faith (or any other subject of faith, or all of them) is a product of evolution, but not faith in and of itself. Faith is a side-effect of intelligence and is simply the confidence that a conclusion from incomplete knowledge is correct. I could demonstrate that cats have faith from any of a number of cat-themed Youtube videos, most of which show cats demonstrating misplaced faith in the grip or stability of a surface they are trying to jump from or land upon. If one were to define and quantify faith as the gap between the evidence to support a particular conclusion and the certainty of that conclusion, I can demonstrate that believing that God exists doesn’t require much faith on my part. It would take a very long time because of the amount of evidence I have that God exists. If one were to define and quantify faith as the amount such conclusions have on my behaviour, I have too much to be popular in most settings, and not enough to be satisfied that my behaviour is consistent with my faith.

  187. …Meh. The last word in my long comment should have been something about the basis of my faith, such as “God”, “God’s expectations”, “ideology” or something along those lines.

  188. @Terry
    “Then you quote the sort of brain fart that generally gets the most coverage on shows like Last Week Tonight and This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Personally, I think he’s just stalling for time.”

    The Donald just regurgitates what he hears around him. His reasoning about AGW was what he has been told it was. This is precisely what drives the AGW deniers. They do not want to face the consequences of the problem, so they deny it exists. They are happy with science when it suits them, they will deny everything when it stops suiting them.

    I consider this the lawyer approach to science. And just as nothing but money can bring a lawyer to admit any fact, nothing can bring an AGW denier to admit any inconvenient fact.

  189. Winter: “They do not want to face the consequences of the problem, so they deny it exists.”

    When the problem only has solutions that favor the same old tired leftist prescriptions they’ve been trying to foist off on us for a century, it’s awful hard to take seriously the idea that the problem isn’t something leftists ginned up to impose their will on the rest of us.

    Especially when those same leftists who complain about CAGW skeptics denying science turn around and deny the science around GMOs.

  190. Terry, at 1797665:

    > The actual evidence from population genetics and molecular biology shows that mutations always result in a net loss of genetic information

    Terry, at 1797927, after I say that the evidence can’t show this because a) it is necessarily false and b) has absurd consequences:

    > as mutations accumulate, they start hitting already damaged information. An example in my own “Slrmal rebuctal”, the same letter (the first t in “rebuttal” originally), was hit twice. The second time did no further damage.

    You’re criticizing the consequence of your own bloody position. You have just demonstrated why the evidence cannot show the thing you are claiming it shows.

    >I think it’s had enough mutation to make my point.

    Far from it. You asserted an “always”. Not a “usually” or a “more often than not” or even a “in these ten cases”.

  191. > But you’re not discussing evidence, you argue with pure speculation. Let’s consider two genetic states one mutation apart, X and Y …in a three billion base genome like the human one. You have a mutation that turns X to Y, breaking a gene of gbout two thousand bases, by, for example, changing an adenine to a guanine. The odds of the next mutation fixing Y back to X are one in twelve billion. Tell me, sir, how likely is chat?

    Please leave this blog for some place you can learn the difference between “speculation” and “abstract reasoning”. If John Doe says that the evidence shows circles can never have a circumference greater than one mile, I don’t need to count the circumferences of various circles to know that John is talking nonsense. It suffices to look at the formula for the circumference of a circle and note that it grows with an unbounded variable; therefore the circumference of a circle is itself unbounded and John’s assertion is wrong. The odds of any particular circle having that great a circumference are also irrelevant to the fact that John is wrong.

  192. @Terry
    “The actual evidence from population genetics and molecular biology shows that mutations always result in a net loss of genetic information”

    1) You obviously also do not know what information is. I suspect you are refering to an increase in entropy (= negative information). But that is not applicable here.

    2) Needles to say that neither population genetics nor molecular biology have ever resulted in anything lime your nonsense. On the contrary, both are heavily involved in directed evolution (see links above, or wikipedia). DE disproves your statements at every turn.

  193. Terry, you are wrongly assuming that the only kind of mutation that occurs in nature is a change to a single base pair. In fact, any type of transcription error that can occur in written text can also happen when a DNA strand is copied – such as blocks of thousands of codons being duplicated in a completely different context, or omitted entirely. There are many examples of mutations of this type in the scientific record. One I happen to have heard of is in the proteins responsible for blood clotting.

    Mass duplications, obviously, introduce information (in the Shannon information-theoretic sense, which is the one you’re using) into a genome, invalidating your claim that mutations never produce new information. They also introduce proteins into contexts where they didn’t previously exist, potentially creating novel biochemical processes in the overall organism, and generating new information in the colloquial sense.

    Winter: The evidential basis for anthropogenic global warming – distinct from natural global warming, caused by processes we can’t do anything about – is a collection of computer simulations run by a small number of scientists who regularly collaborate with each other. These simulations have so many adjustable parameters that their agreement with real climate data is more likely to be the result of statistical overfitting than anything in the physical world. And they build in the assumption that CO2, when mixed with other atmospheric gases, somehow has a greenhouse effect depending linearly on CO2 concentration, though CO2 by itself has only a logarithmic greenhouse effect – an assumption with no known physical basis.

    So there’s lots of good reasons to be skeptical of AGW, even before we look at the policies being suggested to prevent it. When I do, what comes to mind is a saying of H. L. Mencken: “the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

  194. The extent to which Linus’s and others’ foul mouths are tolerated on official community fora is still considered a problem

    By whom, exactly?

    I’m not a Linux contributor, but I can see that Linux is a very productive project, and my view as an outsider is that Linus’ style of expressing himself obviously works for him and the people who collaborate with him.

  195. Part of the problem is that Social Justice doesn’t quantify.

    “Social Justice” doesn’t exist. All justice, and injustice, is individual.

  196. @Jay Maynard&Michael Brazier

    What I read hear is almost exactly what I have read for decades from the creationists.

    1) Scientists are corrupt fools who conspire by the tens of thousands just to harm you. With the creationists, I found out pretty quickly that they themselves were corrupt and conspiring and would tell any lie to further their political cause. Above, I quoted The Donald saying explicitely that he is willing to admit the truth when it does not cost him too much. So I have become very suspicious about AGW deniers claiming scientists are lying and corrupt. That sounds a lot like projection of their own morals. Likewiee, Jay’s problems are with the political consequences of AGW much more than any science. I have never seen any jndication here that he is even interested in the science at all.

    2) Claims of inadequate or false evidence for Evolution and AGW sound very hollow from people who do not understand even basic science, see Terry’s misunderstandings of molecular biology and information theory above and my link to Eric’s howler blog “Pave the rainforrest”. If you cannot be bothered to actually inform yourself of the basics, I see no reason to take your evaluation of “scientific errors” seriously.

    To get back to the complex and “bad” climate simulations mentioned. The predictions of exact increases of global temperatures in response to CO2 concentrations are independent of establishing human influence on global temperature. Also, the evidence for CO2 driving temperatures is much more diverse than just some global circulation models and goes back to the 19th century.

    But I know, as long as Libertarianism has no ideologically accepted solution to global problems, Libertarians will simply not admit such problems exist. Just as bible fundamentalists will never accept that the world and universe are billions of years old, whatever the facts.

  197. Winter:

    “Scientists are corrupt fools who conspire by the tens of thousands just to harm you. ”

    Sorry, no. There’s a big difference between “conspir[ing] by the tens of thousands” and “knowing which side their bread is buttered on”. I have never argued the former and don’t believe it. As for the latter, it’s a common climatista argument against science funded by, say, ExxonMobil. Why should scientists from ExxonMobil know which side their bread is buttered on and scientists funded by governments not?

    The accusation of bias comes from applying your own argument to your favored scientists.

    “The predictions of exact increases of global temperatures in response to CO2 concentrations are independent of establishing human influence on global temperature.”

    And when those predictions fail completely, what are we then to think? Climatistas handwave away the simple fact that the models are demonstrably wrong and completely fail to retrodict the present, never mind correspond with the actual results within their own stated margins of error, but the facts are stubborn things and eviscerate their entire argument. What’s left is nothing more than religious belief and a burning desire to foist their form of government on us whether we want it or not – and it’s proven time and time again that the politicians who fund it all will lie, cheat, and steal to increase their power.

    Claims of “but science!” sound very hollow from people who then turn around and say “GMOs are eeeeevil!!!!“. The science around GMOs is overwhelming and, unlike the “science” around CAGW, has never been busted.

    I am interested in the true science around CAGW. What I’m not interested in are claims that “the science is settled” (science is never settled), or the utterly bogus 97% number that David Friedman has thoroughly debunked, or claims that this is the warmest year on record (by tiny fractions of a degree with only 35% confidence in the claim at all, and that only after past temperatures have been repeatedly fudged by NASA (a government agency, it should never be forgotten) without explanation or description of methodology and original data so the work can be replicated independently). I’m especially not interested in a “climate science” community that refuses to share data with those not members of the cult, that refuses to publish articles because they’re “not helpful”, that engages in character assassination of those who dare to question their results instead of welcoming those questions as central to the scientific method.

    In short, get back to me when “climate science” is one.

  198. @Jay
    “Why should scientists from ExxonMobil know which side their bread is buttered on and scientists funded by governments not?”

    You are just repeating that all sciebtists are corrupt. So I was right.

    We do have empirical evidence for the difference between industrial funded “science” and standard compettitive grants:

    Science funded by the tobacco industry was corrupt, and the funders knew it. Science outside that funded by the tobacco industry was not, even though society nor government wanted to hear about the dangers of smoking. And there are strong indications that Exxon et al. tells us something different about AGW from what they tell internally.

    However, your polarization does not apply. All scientific journals have engaged in debates wit AGW deniers. But the deniers never really came up with evidence and science. All AGW deniers came up with was accusations of fraud and FUD.

    There is no science in AGW deniers just as there is no science in creationism. It is all fake.

  199. @ Winter – “predictions of exact increases of global temperatures”

    All predictions are approximate estimations of future reality. There is no “exact” in this context.

    That you do not understand this is either ignorance, psychosis, or deception in service to some covert agenda. In the interest of clarity, please inform us as to which of these you most resemble.

  200. Winter: “What I read hear is almost exactly what I have read for decades from the creationists.”

    What you read is not what I wrote.

    “1) Scientists are corrupt fools who conspire by the tens of thousands just to harm you.”

    Tens of thousands? Not at all. Active climate research is being done by very few people – twenty? thirty? – at a number of institutions that can be counted on one hand. We’re not talking about the entire scientific community here, just one tiny fragment of it. There’s more people working on string theory (by at least two orders of magnitude) and nobody is prepared to say that that field is “settled science”.

    “If you cannot be bothered to actually inform yourself of the basics, I see no reason to take your evaluation of “scientific errors” seriously. ”

    Do you, yourself, have any idea what overfitting is, and why it’s a problem for arguments based on computer simulations?

    “Also, the evidence for CO2 driving temperatures is much more diverse than just some global circulation models and goes back to the 19th century. ”

    By this you mean either the historical correlation between CO2 concentrations and global temperatures since the Little Ice Age, or the measured greenhouse effect of CO2 alone. In the first case, the Medieval Warm Period, in which CO2 concentrations were significantly lower than at present while global temperatures were significantly higher, refutes any causal connection. And in the second case, as I said already, CO2’s greenhouse effect is logarithmically dependent on concentration; also, it covers two narrow bands of IR wavelengths, where water vapor covers most of the Earth’s IR spectrum. The theory that all the warming since 1800 AD is due to burning fossil fuels assumes a physical mechanism for which no other evidence exists.

    I claim no special expertise in this field, but I suggest that I am better informed than you, Winter. If you want someone who is an expert, you should consult Dr. Judith Curry.

  201. @Michael Brazier
    “Tens of thousands? Not at all. Active climate research is being done by very few people – twenty? thirty?”

    Not at all. Just count the authors on papers related to climate change. You only seem to count the people who do the general circulation models. And even that is an understatement. Here is the list with lead authors of the IPCC, that is hundreds of people, each part of an academic group:
    https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ar5/ar5_authors_review_editors_updated.pdf

    @Michael Brazier
    “Do you, yourself, have any idea what overfitting is, and why it’s a problem for arguments based on computer simulations?”

    Yes I do, and so do all of the scientists involved. That is in every introductory course in computer modelling. And why should that be a problem when you are studying atmospheric driving forces? You seem to equate predicting future climate with studying current and past driving forces.

    @Michael Brazier
    “By this you mean either the historical correlation between CO2 concentrations and global temperatures since the Little Ice Age, or the measured greenhouse effect of CO2 alone.”

    No, I mean atmospheric science. The role of CO2 in global temperature was already studied by Tyndall, Arrhenius, and Chamberlin in the 19th century.
    http://history.aip.org/climate/co2.htm

    @Michael BRazier
    “I claim no special expertise in this field, but I suggest that I am better informed than you,”

    The first part I can only agree with, the second part has not yet been shown. On the contrary, I think.

  202. @TomA
    “All predictions are approximate estimations of future reality. There is no “exact” in this context.”

    Indeed, but I have seen people here claiming that the predictions are outside some narrow band and therefore AGW cannot exist. This is rubbish, obviously.

    @TomA
    “That you do not understand this is either ignorance, psychosis, or deception in service to some covert agenda.”

    I do not see how the “prediction” part should be connected to my mental health. I am pretty sure I do not suffer from psychosis. My “covert agendas” are to further the cause of evidence based policies, the long term habitability of the Earth, and the short term preservation of the environment. But I have never made that a secret so they are not that covert.

    With respect to ignorance, we can all learn. Though, I do prefer resources backed by numbers and facts over made-up Just-So stories and hear-say.

  203. “You are just repeating that all sciebtists are corrupt.”

    No, I’m saying that they’re no less corruptible than anyone else, and government-funded scientists are not angels compared to hose funded from other sources.

    “people here claiming that the predictions are outside some narrow band and therefore AGW cannot exist.”

    The claim is that the predictions come with error bars, and the reality is outside those error bars. They’re falsified by their own terms. When someone says “it’s going to look like this, and it can be as different as this from that prediction”, and the actuality is different from the prediction by more than the stated allowance, then the prediction is bad.

    It’s really just that simple.

    Let me ask you this: If a prediction is incorrect by even more than its stated error, why do you say it has value, and what would make it valueless?

    “My “covert agendas” are to further the cause of evidence based policies, the long term habitability of the Earth, and the short term preservation of the environment.”

    And to promote the leftist dream of a government-run economy.

  204. @Jay
    “No, I’m saying that they’re no less corruptible than anyone else, and government-funded scientists are not angels compared to hose funded from other sources.”

    No, but they are checked by those funded by others. We have pretty strong cases about companies using funding to derail science (tobacco etc.) and pretty few of a global conspiracy of government funded science.

    But this is all misdirection. All those company funded scientists you mention were unable to come up with any evidence that AGW is a collective fraud. The only thing they could come up with was baseless FUD.

    All the laws, rules and regulations I have ever seen from all kinds of government funded institutions were unanimous in labeling the behavior you describe as “fraud”, punishable by immediate termination of employment and criminal charges. So this is considered “corruption” by everyone involved.

    What you claim is that AGW is a collective global fraud by all climate scientists who ever published support for AGW.

  205. No, but they are checked by those funded by others.

    This does not appear to be the case. If their work is checked by others, the AGW side considers the check confirmed if it agrees with the work, and if it doesn’t, they consider the check unfounded by argument of funding source, or personal bias. This is an intellectually dishonest principle.

  206. Me: “By this you mean either the historical correlation between CO2 concentrations and global temperatures since the Little Ice Age, or the measured greenhouse effect of CO2 alone.”

    Winter: “No, I mean atmospheric science. The role of CO2 in global temperature was already studied by Tyndall, Arrhenius, and Chamberlin in the 19th century.”

    You are a parrot, Winter – you can only repeat what others have told you. Where did you think I got the statement that CO2’s greenhouse effect depends logarithmically on its concentration? If you actually knew the science, you’d have recognized it as Arrhenius’ calculation in 1896 without me having to tell you so.

    You might also have recognized Ångström’s objection to that calculation, based on CO2’s IR absorption spectrum that he determined in 1900, if you knew the full history of the debate. But since you know only what AGW’s believers tell you, you didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. And you have the gall to call me ignorant?

  207. @ Winter – “predictions of exact increases of global temperatures”
    @ TomA – “There is no “exact” in this context.”
    @ Winter – “Indeed”

    Then why did you write this misleading statement that implies a certitude that does not exist? Was it your intent to sound authoritative and definitive (perhaps even dogmatic)?

    I imagine this tactic works well for you when addressing weak-minded individuals such as young impressionable students. However, attempted intimidation is not going to work on this board. Rather, you would do well to admit the error and show some contrition. This would also be good advice for the AGW modelers whose own analysis disputes their claims.

  208. > (Erik) Terry, at 1797927, after I say that the evidence can’t show this…

    You’re using abstract reasoning to deny real-world evidence. Perhaps this is something we disagree on, but I believe that is very silly, and I will not take any such argument seriously. If you really want to rebut me, you need to answer the question that Gillian Brown asked Richard Dawkins nearly 21 years ago now which he could not answer: Can you provide an example from biology or the fossil record of any mutation which has added new information to the genome. (Verbatim, it’s “Can you give an example of a genetic mutation or or or or an evolutionary process which h- can be seen to increase the information in the genome” – stutters and all.)

    >> (Terry) I think it’s had enough mutation to make my point.

    > (Erik) Far from it. You asserted an “always”. Not a “usually” or a “more often than not” or even a “in these ten cases”.

    How does that explain how we got from magma to molecular biologists over billions of years? How does this turn your “abstract reasoning” into a rebuttal of the evidence that I should take seriously?

    > (Erik) If John Doe says that the evidence shows circles can never have a circumference greater than one mile, I don’t need to count the circumferences of various circles to know that John is talking nonsense. It suffices to look at the formula…

    Let’s assume for a moment that the universe is very different to entertain this hypothetical: if John Doe makes this claim, and he’s correct, i.e. no one has ever seen a circle with a circumference greater than one mile and there is no substantiated claim in the scientific literature that there has been such a circle, and then he takes a piece of paper and draws you a small circle and explains clearly why from the little circle it’s obvious you can never have one bigger than one mile, he has every right to tell you the unbounded nature of the diameter equation has no weight in telling him there can be such a circle, and that you are talking nonsense. I have done all the equivalents for Evolution.

    Oh, by the way, what’s the equation for universal common ancestry?

    > (Winter) 1) You obviously also do not know what information is.

    Something that isn’t measured in shannons. You see, he only dealt with the data link layer of information, dealing with transmission through the physical media and ensuring it can be decoded at the other end. This type of information has no inherent meaning and explains nothing about how a 4.5Gb DNA strand decompresses itself into the human form. There is a heck of a lot more to information than the statistical probability that it is correct. This is why NASA has gotten so damn good at transmitting it hundreds of billions of kilometres. Your other point is so vacuous and empty that it is not worth responding to. (Also full of spelling errors.)

    > (Michael) Terry, you are wrongly assuming that the only kind of mutation that occurs in nature is a change to a single base pair.

    You are wrongly reading assumptions from what hasn’t been discussed, my friend. Just because we haven’t discussed something doesn’t mean I’ve assumed it doesn’t exist, even if it were something I know little about. But… indels are my friend. Some of them appear to be by design, and some are true mutations (many of which are called endogenous retroviruses, or ERVs, big chains of DNA that have been moved around, the assumption being that they used to be in viral genomes …except that they can’t find any free viruses with such DNA in them.) An indel is an insertion or deletion (often we can’t tell which), analogous in the text that we’re working with to pasting and cutting.

    > (Apparent design) Terry, the assumption you are making that there are only single base pair mutations is wrong.

    > (Apparent error) Terry, you are change to a single base pair. mutation that occurs wrongly assuming that the only kind of in nature is a

    The difference is a gene that still works and a gene that doesn’t. Also, multicellular genomes cut and paste protein coding genes on a regular basis (introns and exons). Sometimes one is broken and a protein is malformed, deficient in production, or absent altogether. Sometimes a malformed protein is beneficial in niche environments, the flagship example being a protein fragment that has at one end a hydrophilic amino acid (half of the twenty are such) and the other has a hydrophobic amino acid (the other half of the twenty.) Makes a good antifreeze and is therefore called an antifreeze protein. Touted as evolution until they found out how novel it really was. I’m a sound guy, and if I need a hammer for a minor task, but find a broken microphone first, guess what happens! SM58s are built such that they still work as hammers after they’ve quit as microphones. It doesn’t explain the origin of either hammers or microphones.

    > (Michael) Mass duplications, obviously, introduce information (in the Shannon information-theoretic sense, which is the one you’re using)…

    No, that’s not the sense that I’m using. Claude Shannon was dealing with the integrity of transmitted data in radio and telephone communications, not the sort of information that you find in DNA. His work could be used as a yardstick for measuring the performance of DNA replication and error checking mechanisms and performance (which is still unmatched even by DSN experts), but it doesn’t describe the type of information I’m talking about. Look up Wernher Gitt; he doesn’t have an SI unit named after him, but does a much better job of describing information in the sense that I’m talking about.

    > …into a genome, invalidating your claim that mutations never produce new information.

    In the case of an indel or ERV, the information came from somewhere, i.e. it was not produced *from scratch*. The origin of that information remains unexplained.

    (Boy, are they handy in text, too. I missed part of your comment I wanted to respond to once I got to a computer I could respond from, and typed all of the above in the wrong place after quoting you, lol!)

    > (Winter) You are just repeating that all sciebtists are corrupt. So I was right.

    Romans 3:23 ftw. It does appear that we all agree that corruption and conspiracy are not synonymous. Even if you can’t figure that out.

    > (Winter) Here is the list…

    274 is still a far cry from tens of thousands. (I notice name #7… is that you?) There are even more authors with professional credentials questioning the official story of the World Trade Center’s destruction. I’m not too worried about the numbers, as even a unanimous majority can be wrong.

  209. @Paul Brinkely
    “This is an intellectually dishonest principle.”

    The behavior you describe is called fraud. It means you consider all climate scientists corrupt. Which was my original claim about AGW deniers. The only thing they can bring up against AGW is that all scientists are corrupt and it is all a conspiracy.

    @Michael Brazier
    “You are a parrot, Winter – you can only repeat what others have told you.”

    You misunderstood my comment about climate science of CO2 going back to the 19th century. I corrected this misunderstanding. I do not see why you take issue with that? Furthermore, neither you nor I have done any climate research, so we only can know what others have told us.

    @Michael Brazier
    “You might also have recognized Ångström’s objection to that calculation, based on CO2’s IR absorption spectrum that he determined in 1900, if you knew the full history of the debate.”

    Science has progressed since Ångström’s work more than a century ago. He had questions about the role of CO2 in driving the earth’s temperature, others have answered them a long time ago. That is how science works.

    @TomA
    “Then why did you write this misleading statement that implies a certitude that does not exist?”

    I do not understand what you mean here. Earlier, our esteemed host claimed AGW was totally disproved because the observed rise in global temperature did not match a narrow confidence interval of an earlier prediction. That was what I was referring to when I wrote “The predictions of exact increases of global temperatures in response to CO2 concentrations are independent of establishing human influence on global temperature.”.

    @TomA
    “I imagine this tactic works well for you when addressing weak-minded individuals such as young impressionable students.”

    You are continuously looking for hidden evil intentions in every sentence I write. But in the end, you understand nothing at all of what I write.

    You sound like that moronic tag-line from the X-Files “Trust No One”. Paranoids rarely get anywhere in life. If you really trust no one, you die. So, in the end, paranoid people end up to trust the wrong people. Con men like Trump make a good living from people who claim to trust no one.

    I see it here all the time. People claiming to see through the evil conspiracies of the X (fill in favorite group) are falling for every con game or practical joke played on them.

  210. “because the observed rise in global temperature did not match a narrow confidence interval of an earlier prediction.”

    No, it did not match the confidence intervals of every model used by the “climate science” community to push their theory. There’s a word for that: <busted.

    “What you claim is that AGW is a collective global fraud by all climate scientists who ever published support for AGW.”

    Nope. The fault in your sentence is the word “all”. Fraud carries with it an intent to defraud. Not all “vlimate scientists” are intentionally fraudulent. Many are swept along by that good old-time CAGW religion.

    “You are continuously looking for hidden evil intentions in every sentence I write.”

    The price of freedom os constant vigilance.

  211. The word “conspiracy” gets thrown around a bit too lightly here, methinks. Consider the following: if you call up four Jews in America, Europe, Africa and Asia – civilian, unimportant Jews – and ask them questions about Judaism, you can reasonably expect to get similar answers from all four, despite the fact that they’ve never spoken to each other and couldn’t even theoretically have conspired to give similar answers.

    Perhaps a lesser comparative is in order, such as “coordination” or “common sourcing”.

  212. @Jay
    “No, it did not match the confidence intervals of every model used by the “climate science” community to push their theory. There’s a word for that: busted.”

    The Navier Stokes equations nor thermodynamics are “busted” when the weather predictions don’t work out as well as you thought. AGW does not depended on whether the rise in temperature is 1 or 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius.

    What was busted were assumptions in the models about the heat transfer to the oceans. Not separating the incompleteness of the models from the validity of the underlying atmospheric processes is bad science.

    But we know how this works. Picking out isolated unanswered questions and using them to discredit all of science is well known from the tobacco industries’ “research” and Creationism. AGW deniers are completely in that league.

    @Jay
    “Many are swept along by that good old-time CAGW religion.”

    Oh, so the claim is now that half of them are corrupt, and the other half grossly incompetent.

    The answer to “Why should we dismiss AGW and should not listen to scientists?” is therefore “Climate scientists are either corrupt or grossly incompetent”.

    All this wrangling just because the AGW deniers cannot come up with any science or facts themselves. FUD, FUD and more FUD.

  213. @Erik
    “Perhaps a lesser comparative is in order, such as “coordination” or “common sourcing”.”

    Coordination to defraud others is generally called a “conspiracy”. I do not see why I should use a euphemism. The claim is simple that AGW can be denied because all climate scientists are either corrupt or grossly incompetent. That is it. That is all there is in AGW deniers. Nothing of substance, no facts, just “they must be corrupt or incompetent, so I do not have to listen”.

    Btw, this seems to hold for all scientists that produce unwanted results. Be it economics, human genetics (race), human psychology (IQ) or whatever. Whenever I come up with research showing the prevailing prejudices are wrong I get to hear that these scientists were corrupt and/or grossly incompetent.

    I start to get a very grim view of the society you live in if that is how you trust your compatriots.

  214. “I start to get a very grim view of the society you live in if that is how you trust your compatriots.”

    Ronaldus Magnus said it best: “Trust, but verify.”

    When someone leads me down the garden path repeatedly, why should I trust them?

  215. Michael, FooQuuxman, and William O. B’Livion:

    Thanks for the suggestions, but I’m not trying to “acquire a mate”; that wasn’t the intent of my question. I guess I misunderstood Mash Wilson’s remark, so I apologize for having wasted your time. I hope this video makes up for it. (Trust me on this: it’s not your average cute-cat video.)

  216. @ Winter

    You perceive a catastrophic threat to the planet via AGW and advocate for worldwide governments to use their power to enforce a reduction in CO2 emissions. In your mind, this is a reasonable and necessary thing to do, and you can’t imagine how this mindset could do any harm even if it was later shown that AGW predictions are bogus. In essence, you want to control the world based upon your perception of a future problem.

    You accuse me of paranoia, but methinks you may be experiencing megalomania instead.

  217. >“You are continuously looking for hidden evil intentions in every sentence I write.”

    That’s just because people have gotten to know you.

  218. > (Erik) Perhaps a lesser comparative is in order, such as “coordination” or “common sourcing”.

    The big comment containing the little input I have on the CAGW thread (which I considered settled long before March 2014 and ESR’s blog post #5297 regarding it), was delayed…

    > (Winter quoted) You are just repeating that all sciebtists are corrupt. So I was right.

    > (Terry) [Something vague about all scientists being corrupt] It does appear that we all agree that corruption and conspiracy are not synonymous. Even if you can’t figure that out.

  219. Winter: “Science has progressed since Ångström’s work more than a century ago. He had questions about the role of CO2 in driving the earth’s temperature, others have answered them a long time ago. That is how science works.”

    Wrong. Ångström’s objection has never been answered; it has only been dismissed. I challenge you to produce a scientific paper which addresses Ångström’s measurement of CO2’s absorption spectrum, and his conclusion that CO2’s ability to absorb IR was already saturated at the concentrations of 1900 AD.

    Saying airily “oh, I’m sure someone answered that question” is no more than a declaration of faith – “science” treated as an infallible authority. That is not how science is supposed to work, and if AGW research does work that way it isn’t science.

    “The Navier Stokes equations nor thermodynamics are “busted” when the weather predictions don’t work out as well as you thought. AGW does not depended on whether the rise in temperature is 1 or 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius. ”

    What does it depend on? At what point is the disagreement between the simulations’ predictions and reality good reason to ignore the simulations?

    “What was busted were assumptions in the models about the heat transfer to the oceans.”

    Sure, let’s add a few more epicycles and deferents, that’ll fix things!

    I refer you again to my remarks on overfitting. At best changing the assumptions about heat transfer to the oceans just adjusts the values of some parameters in the models; doing that doesn’t add any confidence to predictions from the models. At worst it adds more parameters, giving more scope to overfitting and reducing confidence in the models.

  220. > (Winter quoted) What was busted were assumptions in the models about the heat transfer to the oceans.

    > (Michael) Sure, let’s add a few more epicycles and deferents, that’ll fix things!

    ESR’s prediction is happening much closer to where it was made than I expected…

    > (Eric post #5297) Here is my next prediction – and remember, I have been *consistently* right about these. The next phase of the comedy will feature increasingly frantic attempts to bolt epicycles onto the models.

    (Sorry, I couldn’t preserve the original emphasis, so I did something that sucks a syphilitic camel’s- …nvm, I shouldn’t have said anything. /S)

  221. Terry: “Claude Shannon was dealing with the integrity of transmitted data in radio and telephone communications, not the sort of information that you find in DNA. His work could be used as a yardstick for measuring the performance of DNA replication and error checking mechanisms and performance (which is still unmatched even by DSN experts), but it doesn’t describe the type of information I’m talking about. Look up Wernher Gitt; he doesn’t have an SI unit named after him, but does a much better job of describing information in the sense that I’m talking about.”

    Oh dear. A young-earth creationist? Really?

    Here’s an article about Werner Gitt’s misunderstanding of Shannon’s work. Gitt can’t claim to have distinguished his definition of “information” from Shannon’s if he can’t describe Shannon’s theory correctly.

    Regarding the semantic aspect of genes: the only rigorous definition of the “meaning” of a genome AFAIK is a mature organism, because it’s the whole organism that sustains and reproduces itself, or fails to do so. Under that definition, “any mutation which has added new information to the genome” becomes “any mutation which has made a new organism”, which is nonsense – new organisms are made by reproduction. And asking for a mutation that made a new species (the nearest thing to what you said that makes sense) is foolish – speciation is an extended process, the cumulative result of many mutations, and no single mutation can be pointed to as the definite boundary between two species.

    Finally, getting around to what I must assume you really want to know: the origin of the information in an organism’s genome is the environment in which its ancestors survived. Given the time involved since the appearance of life, and the range of possible mutations, it’s unnecessary to assume any source other than that.

  222. @Michael Brazier
    “I challenge you to produce a scientific paper which addresses Ångström’s measurement of CO2’s absorption spectrum, and his conclusion that CO2’s ability to absorb IR was already saturated at the concentrations of 1900 AD.”

    Challenge accepted. Follow the links in this historical story:
    http://history.aip.org/climate/co2.htm

    You really think scientists are morons, do you.

    @Terry
    “The next phase of the comedy will feature increasingly frantic attempts to bolt epicycles onto the models.”

    Heat transport to the ocean has been part of the models from the very beginning (see the historic article at link above). What was lacking was hard data about how fast this process was. You have to send out ships making precise temperature and current measurements, which is both difficult and very expensive. These data have been collected and the results are published here:

    Varying planetary heat sink led to global-warming slowdown and acceleration
    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/345/6199/897

    So, this is not an epicycle, but a parameter change due to improved measurements. Meanwhile, temperature have started to rise rapidly again. 2016 was the warmest year on record, with 2015 second and 2014 third. 16 of 17 hottest years on record are from this century.

  223. @Michael Brazier
    “What does it depend on? At what point is the disagreement between the simulations’ predictions and reality good reason to ignore the simulations?”

    What does meteorology depends on? On knowing the physics and measuring outcomes. Not on being right on the precipitation in your garden tomorrow being 2 mm falling between 15:00 and 17:00 hours. AGW is about climate changing due to increased CO2. By how much depends on everything from aerosol concentrations, to cloud formation to changes in ocean currents and responses of the biosphere.

    Anyhow, with 16 of the 17 hottest years on record this century and glaziers disappearing before our eyes, I think the climate predictions from the 1980s were spot on. The Sahara desert is already creeping up into Southern Europe, and we are growing wine in the Netherlands. Also spot on.

  224. @Terry
    ” It does appear that we all agree that corruption and conspiracy are not synonymous. Even if you can’t figure that out.”

    It is all four, incompetence, fraud, corruption, and conspiracy.

    @Jay: “Why should scientists from ExxonMobil know which side their bread is buttered on and scientists funded by governments not?”

    Lying for money => corruption

    @Paul Brinkley
    ” If their work is checked by others, the AGW side considers the check confirmed if it agrees with the work, and if it doesn’t, they consider the check unfounded by argument of funding source, or personal bias.”

    Fraud

    @Jay:
    “Many are swept along by that good old-time CAGW religion.”

    Gross incompetence

    @Jay and others
    “And to promote the leftist dream of a government-run economy.”

    An ulterior motive in promoting AGW => conspiracy

  225. “@Jay: “Why should scientists from ExxonMobil know which side their bread is buttered on and scientists funded by governments not?”

    Lying for money => corruption”

    And you dodge the argument yet again.

    If scientists funded by ExxonMobil are corrupt, so are scientists funded by governments.

  226. @Jay
    “If scientists funded by ExxonMobil are corrupt, so are scientists funded by governments.”

    I do not care about scientists funded by ExxonMobil. There are indications that ExxonMobile could tell the public a different story from what they know internally (like the tobacco industry did). Note I say ExxonMobile, the company. However, their contributions to the debate are negligible so this is utterly irrelevant.

    Evidence from ExxonMobile et al. is considered on an equal footing in the scientific debate. It is just that they do not have anything to offer but FUD. All evidence is taken into account if it is backed by genuine research. But you have to offer real research and results, not accusations and FUD.

    You claim a considerable fraction of the global scientific community are corrupt. So much so, that you can ignore all government funded climate research.

    That is my claim. Not who is the bigger crook.

  227. “And to promote the leftist dream of a government-run economy.”

    Well maybe if all the non-leftists weren’t busy denying global warming instead of coming up with solutions to it…

  228. Me: “I challenge you to produce a scientific paper which addresses Ångström’s measurement of CO2’s absorption spectrum, and his conclusion that CO2’s ability to absorb IR was already saturated at the concentrations of 1900 AD.”

    Winter: “Challenge accepted. Follow the links in this historical story: http://history.aip.org/climate/co2.htm

    Having read through this carefully, I say you have failed. Exactly two researchers are mentioned as addressing the spectroscopic objection (Hulburt and Callendar) and neither found an answer to it. The later work of Kaplan and Plass established only that CO2’s absorption bands aren’t shared with H2O’s, which misses the point that CO2’s absorption bands are much sparser than H2O’s, reducing the total energy CO2 can absorb from Earth’s blackbody radiation to a small fraction of what H2O can manage.

    “What does meteorology depends on? On knowing the physics and measuring outcomes. Not on being right on the precipitation in your garden tomorrow being 2 mm falling between 15:00 and 17:00 hours.”

    Nobody expects weather predictions to be more than broadly accurate, and nobody even tries to predict the weather for more than a week ahead. The fundamental dynamics of the atmosphere don’t allow more accuracy than that. Meteorologists don’t make claims beyond what the data permits to them, so they’re usually believed when they do make claims.

    “AGW is about climate changing due to increased CO2. By how much depends on everything from aerosol concentrations, to cloud formation to changes in ocean currents and responses of the biosphere.”

    IOW the climate modelers have lots and lots of ways to adjust their simulations to make them agree with reality after the fact. Which in turn means the simulations have very little value as predictors before the fact – overfitting, again. You’re not helping your case here.

  229. Random832: “Well maybe if all the non-leftists weren’t busy denying global warming instead of coming up with solutions to it…”

    Let me introduce you to this novel concept. It’s called “burden of proof”. It’s not my job to come up with solutions to a non-problem. If you think it’s a problem, you come up with solutions to it.

    Nobody in the CAGW cult is even trying to come up with solutions that aren’t the same old tired leftist programs. That places their motives squarely in the crosshairs.

  230. > (Michael) Finally, getting around to what I must assume you really want to know: the origin of the information in an organism’s genome is the environment in which its ancestors survived. Given the time involved since the appearance of life, and the range of possible mutations, it’s unnecessary to assume any source other than that.

    How exactly does that work? Oh, I’m just curious, but you might *really* want to think about that, as a million dollar prize (still unclaimed) has been offered for a plausible answer to that question. It doesn’t have to be proven, merely plausible in light of our current understanding of how biology works. (I’m not posting a link to keep this comment from being delayed.)

    If no one can even imagine a mechanism for how an environment creates information as you describe that remains consistent with our scientific understanding of biology, how could it be unnecessary to assume there is no other source? In this case, i.e. the real world, we would not be here to discuss the matter, and neither would any other organism on this planet, if there was no other source.

    By the way, even Richard Dawkins has admitted there must be another source, and under unbelievable circumstances: He was being interviewed by Ben Stein for the documentary/movie “No Intelligence Allowed” about the persecution of non-evolutionists in the US education system, and this was many years after the Gillian Brown gaffe.

  231. Terry: “How exactly does that work? Oh, I’m just curious, but you might *really* want to think about that, as a million dollar prize (still unclaimed) has been offered for a plausible answer to that question.”

    That’s very interesting. Who’s offering the prize?

    “If no one can even imagine a mechanism for how an environment creates information as you describe that remains consistent with our scientific understanding of biology, how could it be unnecessary to assume there is no other source?”

    An ill-posed question. Environments don’t create information, they just have it. By surviving and reproducing, an organism establishes that it’s well-adapted to the conditions it encountered – it has been informed by its environment, both in Shannon’s sense (uncertainty has been removed and local entropy decreased) and the semantic one. Alternately, organisms that don’t survive and reproduce are also informed by their environment, though less happily.

    The key here is that “information has been received” implies some consciousness (not much) in the receiver, but none at all in the transmitter. If that were untrue, it would follow that because cartographers can prepare maps of the Grand Canyon, the Grand Canyon must have been deliberately excavated, and not eroded over geologic eras by a river.

  232. @Terry
    “If no one can even imagine a mechanism for how an environment creates information as you describe that remains consistent with our scientific understanding of biology, how could it be unnecessary to assume there is no other source?”

    This is because you are using “information” where you should use “entropy”. Information only has a meaning when there is a single observation and a probability distribution of outcomes. But speciation is only defined when you are talking about the evolution of a population.

    A mutation increases the entropy of the gene pool of a population. That is your incorrect use of “negative information of a mutation”. Over time, mutations increase the entropy of the genomes in the population and that would result in the population dying out. However, the environment reduces the entropy in the gene pool by selectively removing the genomes that are least functional. This leads to a dynamic equilibrium where the entropy increase from mutations is equal to the entropy decrease due to selective procreation.

    A dynamic equilibrium in the gene pool obviously means that the gene pool itself will change over time. [insert discussion about fitness gradient descent]

    A little population genetics will tell you that a changing gene pool will mean that at a certain point, random changes in the DNA will have the consequence that individuals in the population will not be able to get viable offspring anymore with individuals of the original population or other, isolated, populations. That is, a new species has evolved.

    That is it. It is so simple and you can model it on your computer with a small program. It works every time.

  233. @Michael BRazier
    “Having read through this carefully, I say you have failed.”

    Moving goal posts. It was well explained in that link why Ångström’s measurement were crude and imprecise. Also, scientists are not the morons you portrait them.

    But, why not. Here is another (old) explanation of the same problem:
    Carbon Dioxide and the Climate
    http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/27859450.pdf

    Much more can be found in:
    Global Physical Climatology by Dennis L. Hartmann
    https://books.google.nl/books?id=RsScBAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=nl#v=onepage&q&f=false

  234. @Jay
    “It’s not my job to come up with solutions to a non-problem. If you think it’s a problem, you come up with solutions to it.”

    This is a daft statement. If it is a problem, it is a problem of everybody.

    But the global community of scientists and politicians do come up with a solution. It is just that you do not like that solution and have no clue on a better one. So you put your fingers in your ears, close your eyes and simply deny that there is a problem.

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